Street Life in Tbilisi as a Factor of Male Socialization

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Evgeniya Zakharova

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Abstract

In addition to socializing institutions such as the family, school, and army, contemporary Georgian urban society also recognizes the socializing function of the “street”—a public environment that enables boys, teenagers, and young men to escape adult control. Georgians often perceive the “street” as an agent of socialization that introduces young men to organized crime. “Street” life is concentrated in the birzha—small groups of male teenagers or young adults who regularly assemble in public spaces. It is regulated by a customary code of social norms and roles that distinguishes between “old guys,” “honest guys,” and “mama’s boys.” The “street” is seen as a school of masculinity. The period of active involvement in “street” life, bichoba, usually ends when young men start higher education or find employment. The functions of the birzha are now being displaced due to recent changes in Georgian society. The study is based on 29 interviews with those formerly involved in “street” life, and with other Tbilisi residents. In Russian, summary in English.

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