Stacks Mitchell Duneier; Ovie Carter Sidewalk

ISBN 13: 9780374263553

Sidewalk

4.08 avg rating
( 1,171 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780374263553: Sidewalk

Chronicling the fortunes and misfortunes of street peddlers in New York, this unique study of modern urban street culture follows a dozen people who sell on the streets of Greenwich Village as they struggle against the city and common misconceptions in order to survive.

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Review:

"I've had the luxury--if you can call it the luxury," says Hakim Hasan, "of working in the formal economy, and of working at certain companies that required a certain level of training, however rudimentary, and a certain level of education." Instead, he chooses to sell books from a table on the sidewalk in New York's Greenwich Village. Soon after he met sociologist Mitchell Duneier, Hakim described himself as a "public character," and sent Duneier scurrying to reread Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities to find out what he meant.

That moment was one of Duneier's inspirations to spend years studying--getting to know, really--Hakim and other book and magazine vendors on his patch of Sixth Avenue. Sidewalk explains much about the street vendors: How did this become legal? Where do vendors obtain their merchandise? How do they interact with potential customers? When do they find time to go to the bathroom (and, for that matter, where do they go)? But it's ultimately about the people themselves--quoted at length from Duneier's tape-recorded interviews and photographed by Ovie Carter--as they do their best to live successfully on their own terms, with all the good and bad consequences that entail. Some of these people (almost all men) are drug addicts, yes, and some of them choose to live as "unhoused" individuals. But many of them find a strong sense of purpose and identity in their work and choose to live in ways that best facilitate that work; they are as motivated--more, perhaps--as workers holding "respectable" office jobs. Nonacademic readers may glaze over at some of Duneier's longer explanations of his methodology, and he seems occasionally overapologetic when quoting the uncensored language of his subjects, but few books succeed at plunging the reader into a community and delineating the character of its members as Sidewalk does.

From the Publisher:

Winner of the 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

SPIKE LEE: "With SIDEWALK, Mitchell Duneier has taken me into a world that I have passed by and rubbed shoulders with my entire New York adult life. He has opened that world up to me and allowed me to understand it in a way that only a work of the greatest integrity could. He writes to inform rather than impress. The result is the most readable work of sociology that I have ever come across."

ROBERT COLES: "SIDEWALK brings us close to the hustle and bustle of urban street life--the book is a knowing, thoughtful exploration that will earn it a place among the classics of the documentary tradition."

DERRICK BELL (author of FACES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL): "Beyong its sensitive portrayal of black men living on the margins of society, SIDEWALK is a testament to the survival skills of a people who from slavery to the present somehow have cobbled lives stunted by racial deprivation into a mostly unheralded affirmation of the human spirit."

WILLIAM FOOTE WHYTE (author of STREET CORNER SOCIETY): "[SIDEWALK] is in the best traditions of participant observation. If I were still teaching, I would want all of my students to read this book."

HOWARD S. BECKER (author of OUTSIDERS): "An exciting and original approach to the problems of urban life, informed by years of intensive participation and by a deep understanding of social science thinking. No one has combined theory and intimate knowledge of city streets as successfully. A masterpiece of fieldwork."

SASKIA SASSEN (author of THE GLOBAL CITY): "Mitchell Duneier must be one of the outstanding ethnographers of our time: he renders visible what typically remains submerged as we take in the world at street level. This is a deep, complex, moving book that yanks you out of your own lived experiences of that world and draws you into another."

RUBIN D.G. KELLEY (author of YO MAMA'S DISFUNKTIONAL!): "SIDEWALK will radically change the way we think about 'the public sphere.'"

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Mitchell Duneier; Ovie Carter
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