Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Social Work

Degree Name



This was a quantitative-descriptive study which utilized survey research techniques to examine reports of labor market participation and participation in drug trafficking by incarcerated African-American males from urban enclaves. A stratified sample of 100 was selected from among 678 incarcerated African-American males, who had been arrested for alleged drug trafficking.

From the response pattern of those surveyed, Measures of Central Tendency, Measures of Variability, and Frequency Analysis were utilized for statistical procedures.

This study provided a glimpse into the development and socialization of a generation of African-American males who made an initial decision to participate in irregular (illegal) economic activities. Data obtained from respondents provided information on how individuals respond to extremely powerful pressures which exist in their environment. The most prominent of these pressures is the attractiveness of possibly earning high incomes by participating in the irregular (illegal) economic activity of drug trafficking. The possibility of earning a high income from drug trafficking was juxtaposed with the reality that participation could lead to serious injury, death, arrest and incarceration.

Nevertheless, many African-American males weighed the advantages and disadvantages of participation in drug trafficking activities, and elected to participate.

Preliminary findings of this study identified some of the factors which may influence many young African American males to forego participation in educational systems which would provide some skills, allowing them to participate in legitimate employment enterprises.

One factor of influence which was identified is the relatively low self-esteem expressed by some respondents.

Another factor of influence was the perception that society has targeted African-Americans, in general, as failures. These findings have implications for social work in the areas of counseling and supporting an increasing number of young African-American women who will be forced to raise children without the presence of fathers; increases of criminal and mental health problems in certain age cohorts; development of even greater levels of anomie by African-American males; and development of a range of support services for families which have males incarcerated with long sentences.

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