The code of the street and romantic relationships: A dyadic analysis


  • Ashley B. Barr, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia; Ronald L. Simons, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia; Eric A. Stewart, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University.

    This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH48165, MH62669) and the Center for Disease Control (029136-02). Additional funding for this project was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station (Project 3320).

Ashley B. Barr, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, e-mail:


Since its publication, Elijah Anderson's (1999) Code of the Street thesis has found support in studies connecting disadvantage to the internalization of street-oriented values and an associated lifestyle of violent/deviant behavior. This primary emphasis on deviance in public arenas has precluded researchers from examining the implications of the code of the street for less public arenas, such as intimate relationships. In an effort to understand if and how the endorsement of the street code may infiltrate such relationships, this study examines the associations between the code of the street and relationship satisfaction and commitment among young adults involved in heterosexual romantic relationships. Using a dyadic approach, the study finds that street code orientation, in general, negatively predicts satisfaction and commitment, in part due to increased relationship hostility/conflict associated with the internalization of the code. Gender differences in these associations are considered and discussed at length.