Duneier Sidewalk Summary

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Willse makes several interesting objections to Duneier’s project described in Sidewalk. In particular, the questions raised on connecting hard work, heterosexual/masculine family relations, and human “decency” as major objectives seem to me to be very exciting angles to approach the topic with. Hard work is a very central identity to many Americans, as can be observed through the idea of the American Dream. In fact, the entire interaction between Hakim and Jerome and the way Duneier portrays it is a great illustration of how deep this American Dream still runs in people’s minds – that with hard work (studying and getting into the GED program) Jerome can eventually “escape” his current status and move towards a “better” job, such as business.…show more content…
I found this concern weak and impractical because Duneier does indeed address this problem himself and warns his readers of the subjectivity he knows is unavoidable by writing such a book. He also includes details about his methods and various long scripts to preserve accuracy. Without selecting and organizing, the amount of information (4 entire years of observations and conversations!) would simply be extensive and difficult to digest for most readers, thus making the spread of such an interesting look into the lives of these people inaccessible to the public. A similar point is raised when Willse argues that Duneier inhumanizes others in order to create a contrast for the subjects he focuses on. He mentions that Duneier should “spill equal ink”(10) on indecent behavior committed by other people that are mentioned in the text. That seems unreasonable to me because Sidewalk is after all, a book about a specific group of people, and thus should focus on exactly that. If the interest lies in comparing this group of people to another group, it is the reader’s own responsibility to find other sources to do so, given the limitations of a bounded collection of
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