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Tay Schmidt
Tay Schmidt

Sidewalk: How Mitchell Duneier Reveals the Hidden World of Street Vendors and Panhandlers

Sidewalk Mitchell Duneier Pdf: A Sociological Study of Street Life

If you are interested in learning more about the lives and experiences of the urban poor, especially those who work and dwell on the sidewalks of New York City, you might want to read Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier. Sidewalk is a sociological study that combines ethnographic methods, theoretical insights, and narrative style to offer a rich and nuanced portrait of a marginalized group of people. In this article, we will provide an overview of Sidewalk, its author, its main themes, and its contributions to sociology and public policy.

Sidewalk Mitchell Duneier Pdf


What is Sidewalk?

Sidewalk is a book written by Mitchell Duneier, a professor of sociology at Princeton University. It was published in 1999 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and won several awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the C. Wright Mills Award. Sidewalk is based on Duneier's doctoral dissertation, which he completed at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Howard S. Becker, a renowned sociologist of deviance and culture.

Sidewalk is an ethnographic study of street vendors, panhandlers, scavengers, and other people who make their living or spend their time on the sidewalks of Greenwich Village in New York City. Duneier spent five years (from 1990 to 1995) observing, interviewing, and interacting with these people, as well as with police officers, shopkeepers, residents, tourists, and activists. He also collaborated with Ovie Carter, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who took hundreds of pictures that illustrate the book.

Who is Mitchell Duneier?

Mitchell Duneier is a prominent sociologist who specializes in urban ethnography, race relations, social problems, and social theory. He was born in 1960 in New York City and grew up in Long Island. He received his bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1982 and his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1992. He taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1992 to 2004 before joining Princeton University in 2005.

Duneier is the author or editor of several books besides Sidewalk, such as Slim's Table: Race, Respectability, and Masculinity (1992), Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea (2016), and Introduction to Sociology (2018). He has also written numerous articles for academic journals and popular media outlets. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.

Why is Sidewalk important?

Sidewalk is important for several reasons. First, it provides a vivid and detailed account of a segment of society that is often ignored, misunderstood, or stigmatized by the mainstream culture. Duneier shows the complexity and diversity of the sidewalk life, as well as the challenges and opportunities that it entails. He also reveals the humanity and dignity of the people who inhabit the sidewalk, as well as their struggles and aspirations.

Second, Sidewalk contributes to the sociological literature on urban poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. Duneier draws on various theoretical perspectives, such as symbolic interactionism, labeling theory, social capital theory, and public space theory, to analyze the social dynamics and interactions that take place on the sidewalk. He also examines the historical and structural factors that shape the conditions and experiences of the sidewalk dwellers, such as deindustrialization, gentrification, homelessness, policing, and welfare reform.

Third, Sidewalk offers practical implications and recommendations for public policy and social change. Duneier argues that the sidewalk is a valuable public resource that should be protected and respected, not regulated and controlled. He suggests that the sidewalk can serve as a site of social integration, civic participation, and democratic dialogue, rather than a source of conflict, disorder, and fear. He also proposes that the street vendors and other informal workers should be recognized and supported as legitimate economic actors who contribute to the urban vitality and diversity.

Main Body

How did Duneier conduct his research?

Duneier used a variety of ethnographic methods to conduct his research on the sidewalk. These methods include participant observation, ethical issues, and collaborative writing.

Participant observation

Participant observation is a method that involves immersing oneself in a social setting and observing what people do, say, think, and feel. Duneier spent countless hours on the sidewalk, participating in various activities such as selling books and magazines, collecting cans and bottles, panhandling, playing chess, reading newspapers, chatting with friends, or just hanging out. He also followed some of his informants to other places such as their homes, shelters, churches, or jails. He took detailed notes of his observations and recorded some of his conversations with a tape recorder.

Ethical issues

Ethical issues are concerns that arise when conducting research involving human subjects. Duneier faced several ethical dilemmas during his fieldwork on the sidewalk. For example, he had to decide whether to intervene or not when he witnessed violence or injustice on the street. He also had to balance his roles as a researcher and a friend to his informants. He had to protect their privacy and confidentiality while also being honest and transparent about his research goals and methods. He had to deal with the emotional stress and moral ambiguity of being in close contact with people who suffer from poverty, addiction, mental illness, or discrimination.

Collaborative writing

Collaborative writing is a method that involves working with others to produce a written text. Duneier collaborated with several people in writing Sidewalk. One of them was Ovie Carter, who provided the photographs that accompany the text. Another was Hakim Hasan, one of Duneier's main informants who was also a poet and a writer. Hasan helped Duneier edit some of his drafts and wrote an introduction for the book. Duneier also shared his manuscript with some of his other informants and asked for their feedback and approval before publishing it.

What are the main themes of Sidewalk?

Sidewalk covers a wide range of topics related to street life in New York City. Some of the main themes are the informal economy of street vending, the social organization of the sidewalk, and the public space and the urban poor.

The informal economy of street vending

The informal economy is a term that refers to economic activities that are not regulated or taxed by the state. Street vending is one example of an informal economy that operates on the sidewalk. Duneier describes how street vendors sell various goods such as books, magazines, flowers, jewelry, or food to make a living or supplement their income. He explains how street vending requires skills such as bargaining, marketing, inventory management, and customer service. He also explores how street vending is affected by factors such as seasonality, competition, legal status, and police harassment.

The social organization of the sidewalk

The social organization is a term that refers to how people interact with each other in a given setting. The sidewalk is a place where people form various types of social relationships such as friendship, trust, respect, reciprocity, solidarity, or conflict. Duneier shows how these relationships are shaped by factors such as gender, race, class, age, or lifestyle. He also illustrates how these relationships influence people's behavior, identity, and well-being. 71b2f0854b


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