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'Hood Work: Hip-Hop, Youth Advocacy, and Model Citizenry


Corresponding author: Murray Forman; e-mail:


This study isolates the phenomenon of “'Hood Work,” encompassing street-level youth advocacy agencies employing hip-hop's core elements (b-boying, aerosol art, DJing, and MCing) to engage disenfranchised teens in urban environments. By mobilizing hip-hop's popular practices and inculcating critical media literacy in an attempt to guide and “empower” teens, 'Hood Workers seek to assist their young wards in interpreting, deconstructing, and challenging mainstream or commercial media representations of urban youth. Yet while 'Hood Work agencies occupy an intermediary role, navigating the complex relationships between urban youth and adult entities, they also emerge as agencies of neoliberal expediency, assuming responsibilities—and authority—once assumed by other formal institutions and social actors.

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