For over half a century, the street child was an inescapable fixture of the nineteenth-century industrial city. Lacking formal education, adult supervision, and sometimes even a home, such youths were derided as "rats," "gamins," "Arabs," "urchins" and "gutter-snipes." In a country which identified geographic mobility and physical movement as freedom, the street kid represented the logical nightmare---the replacement of community, familial and even spiritual bonds with the rootless individualism of the nomad. Street children by necessity developed a confrontational and oppositional subculture relative to adult authority, while simultaneously adopting certain entrepreneurial behaviors as a survival strategy. Struggling to negotiate a terrain between personal autonomy and adult authority, between self-sufficiency and economic dependence, child pickpockets thus cultivated their own conception of freedom and independence.

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pp. 853-862
Launched on MUSE
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