`sidewalk` by Mitchell Duneier
Sociology , while being in many cases a formal field of study dealing with its subjects in an impersonal way , nevertheless is intrinsically connected to the social network comprised of individual people with their own concerns and world views . In this regard , it is the ability of a researcher to see behind descriptive and quantitative sociological data live human faces , and a talent to focus on individual stories for the purpose of creation of both interesting and academically solid research that can help him or her to attract attention of wide audience and
thus increase public awareness of the mentioned connection between sociology and real life . Mitchell Duneier , with the help of his real-life protagonist and the author of the afterword Hakim Hasan and the photographer Ovie Carter , managed in his well-known book "Sidewalk to accomplish precisely that task of bringing together those micro and macro levels of looking at our society . Let us take a closer look at what methodological tools helped Duneier in his research , and what were some of his important conclusions
In his volume Duneier examines the intricate social environment of a certain part of Greenwich Village in New York , and in the process of his investigation gradually builds a compelling portrait of a community mostly invisible to the rest of public . The main characters of Duneier`s account are sellers of discounted , used , or thrown away books and magazines , panhandlers , and scavengers . Depicting many aspects of their lives that are often quite uncomely , like for example the harassment of women and public urination , Duneier manages to convey what is perhaps his main message that can hardly leave an attentive reader unaffected - namely that , notwithstanding what is perceived by some people as dis created by the street vendors , the sidewalk as a symbol of informal economy after all offers for those who may need it an opportunity for predictable income , social support , self-respect , and respect from people . However , to go such a long way in changing stereotypic views of people who may think of street vendors as merely of nuisance , Duneier had to be really persuasive and impressive in his account of their life . For this purpose this experienced sociologist had elaborated an extensive methodological set that he would use in his ethnographic field work , which actually lasted five years and included the author`s immediate participation in street sales and related activities . In this way , on the most fundamental level the chief methodology of Duneier was participant observation , a method of research that demands that researcher be placed amidst the action he or she plans to observe , and at the same time not be a passive researcher but rather a participant of a process as well . Indeed , the author of the book not only spends his time among the subjects of his study , takes extensive notes , records different conversations , and reinforces observations with amazing photos made by Carter , but for a certain period of his life essentially becomes a part of the informal economy into which street vendors...
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