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Ethnography in the City Phillipe Bourgois and the Barrio Cities exist for many reasons and the diversity of urban form and function can be traced to the complex roles that cities perform Cities serve as centers of storage commerce and industry The agricultural surplus from the surrounding country hinterland is processed and distributed within the city Urban areas have also developed around marketplaces where imported goods from distant places could be exchanged for the local products Throughout history cities have been founded at the intersections of transportation routes or at points where market goods must shift from one mode of transportation to another such as river or ocean ports as well as railways Cities are also sites of enormous religious and cultural significance not to mention being the center of administrative action Johnson Earle Cities have always existed in the mind as well as in physical structure For many poor and disenfranchised a particular city can be assumed to be a utopia of possibility in which there will be economic wealth job security political refuge and religious sanctity Thomas Mores Utopia envisioned a city in which no one was exploited or impoverished because all worked This has never been made a terrestrial reality With the rise of the industrial city and the onset of mass media the city can has its dystopian features as well Urban areas are plagued by enormous and widespread poverty intermingled with prodigious wealth The plight of the poor within the city has not been a facet of traditional anthropological inquiry until the prevalence of urban anthropology and studies that evolved in the late twentieth century Violence is a pervasive presence in the lives of young people in urban communities in the United States Despite recent declines in murder rates homicide is a leading cause of death and injury among young people especially those in urban areas A recent study showed that in New York City one in four
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