Reflection Paper: Sudhir Venkatesh

Drumhead Reflection Paper

Urban Experience

May 13Thursday/ 2014

Bright visible radiations cast the biggest shadows, merely the people who lives under those shadows and the ground of why they are there are the centre of Sudhir Venkatesh ‘s “Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found In New York ‘s Underground Economy.” As an Indian American sociologist and urban ethnographer, Sudhir Venkatesh lived in New York City for about a decennary for the intent of understanding the city’s belowground economic system, which, harmonizing to him, was “the small known universe of shadows where people hid income, broke Torahs, and found an eternal figure of originative ways to do a vaulting horse ( p.1 ) .” The book recorded the experience of Sudhir Venkatesh spends a great trade of clip watching people in their mundane state of affairs. He befriended fly-by-night slaves, including the immigrant porn-shop clerks working a kaleidoscope of illicit concerns and the Harlem drug trader who supplies comfortable white creative persons and flower peoples. However, in this book, Sudhir Venkatesh focused on the sex trade from the ghetto street girls to the inheritress who set herself up as a dame.

I truly like the manner that Sudhir Venkatesh hang out with the topics and tried to see the life through their position ; nevertheless, I had the sense that he got more emotionally attached to his topics than sociologists were supposed to. To me, this book feels more likely from a journalist than from a scientist, it was more like stating the narrative about how he got involved and saw the New York belowground economic system than a sociological survey. It was undeniable that he did a really good occupation acquiring under the glamourous above-ground universe of New York City and explore the lives of people in the underworld and I enjoyed the manner that he got to link with those people and to be a hearer for their narratives.

“These people were searchers. Equally much as the peppiest immature enterpriser in any Silicon Valley garage, they demand of altering in their universes. And in their day-to-day lives as ordinary citizens and consumers, their illicit net incomes helped many legitimate concern stay afloat. In that sense, they were pillars of the community( p.178 ) .”

In the book, he was able to demo the instead impermanent communities that arise between these condemnable and fringy universes, the twine that ties those people together was instead unexpecting for me. Even the bond would merely be a short period of clip, the intimacy of the two universes was rather surprising. The drifting metropolis refers to the mobility of many people’s lives in a big and diversity metropolis like New York, the deficiency of ties between traditional vicinities or other societal constructions, and the formation of more fluidness communities. For me, coming from a different civilization, it was intriguing to read the narratives such as local cocottes took the function of taking attention of an older cat as he recovers from a shot and someone’s eroticas shop ends up going a safe oasis for sex workers.

However, I did happen it was interesting that as he bring outing the narratives of those sex workers, I had a sense that even as a sociologist, Sudhir was slightly associating those people together – about like doing a stereotype among those topics. Get downing from the confession Analise made at the beginning of the book, when she told Sudhir that, as an Ivey League alumnus, she took on the function of “managing” five to seven name misss, I felt like Sudhir was instantly associate her occupation with drug maltreatment, force, and even unsafe pack members. I mean, certain, when we think about cocottes we frequently have the image of the directors, or the “brokers” as Sudhir called them, utilizing utmost methods to maintain the misss under control, as it was said in the book, “…the thought that they use drugs and force to keep their clasp over baffled immature misss who were likely sexually abused by uncles and male parents ( p.20 ) ” . And Sudhir did confirmed, at some grade, that though Analise was non needfully coercing drugs or alcohol down to those girls’ pharynxs, she did on occasion “nudged” at least one of her employees to work excess or maintain working at some point to keep the six figure she was doing.

As for me, I somewhat support Analise’s statement that she was merely assisting those misss although people may state that those did non needfully necessitate this type of aid. I candidly do non rather understand why people make such a dither over harlotry. To me, every bit long as there was no drug or sexual maltreatment involved I do non see harlotry as unsafe or harmful to the society. However, I do happen some people, including Sudhir in my sentiment, think less of a individual once they found out the he or she is in the concern of harlotry. It is undeniable that harlotry is illegal in the bulk portion of the universe, but are all those legalized concern so much cleaner than the concern of harlotry? I mean, people get killed or throw into gaol for all sorts of grounds no affair which type of concern they are in. In my sentiment, the jurisprudence should merely be the tool to pull the boundary alternatively of stating people what is right or what incorrect. I guess what I was stating is that being in the concern of harlotry or non, it merely what they do, non so much different from acquiring a occupation such as a cleansing lady. In add-on, it is most surely that what they do to do money does non specify who they are at all – they can still be a nice individual while working as a cocotte. Again there is a possibility that the lone ground I could state this is that I have non hold anyone that I know or cared about being hurt by concern.

But on the other manus, who can fault the people who look down to prostitution? As people, we stereotype – it is merely human nature that we do so. And as we grew up, the thought of harlotry is associated with drug and sexual maltreatment has planted in our caput by assorted methods. I mean, how many people would really believe of the image of an elegant lady when they think about call misss, or even street girls? About no 1 I would state, and many people merely believe that there must be a ground for those cocottes to be fallen this far, that they must hold been abused sexually or hold some sort of dependence with drugs or intoxicant. I am non denying that there are legion sex bargainers who are merely making what they do because they did non hold a pick or ability to make anything else. However, the opportunity that they are in this concern by pick may non be every bit little as we would believe.

From the book, another adult females Sudhir interviewed, Margot, for case, started the path to sex trade after her divorce and her every first trade was merely for a topographic point to remain for that one dark. However, she did hold a pick and she even had a, as we would name it, normal occupation as a human resource director in a big accounting house. Until her foreman pulled the trigger to offer her a publicity in exchange for sex. From my standing point, this act, at some grade, forced her to go a sex agent. As she stated in the book, she eventually owned up to who she was and decided to set the accomplishment she had that adult male would pay good money for in usage, in an intelligent manner, without aching herself ( p.154 ) .

For Margot, working as a sex agent is her pick of life her life. She, as stated in the book, had no demand to sell sex herself, she can do money and earn a step of societal power merely assisting other adult females do so, and she was non abused or back uping a drug wont ( p.154 ) . In her sentiment, making what she does in New York City gave her a 2nd opportunity. If she stayed in other topographic points, after disassociating her hubby, it is more likely that she would hold got remarried, had childs, and been suffering. Alternatively, she got to reinvent herself. To be honest, people would see her as a successful adult females if she was non working as a sex agent. Like she said, “You can judge me, you can set me down and name me names or whatever, but you can’t take away the fact that I am wining ( p.154 ) ” .

Some could reason that though it seemed like Margot chose her way to go a sex agent, deep down the offer her former foreman suggested to her could force her over the border. Similar with the instance that some teenage gang members were merely joint the group because they did non experience like they were being welcomed by the society, that they did non belong to the group of ordinary people. In this instance, before traveling to New York City and going a sex agent, Margot merely realized that she was labeled as a prostitute in that accounting house and she found no desire of remaining in that state of affairs. Therefore, yes, the society might be responsible for giving the push to some people on make up one’s minding to acquire involved in the concern. As it was mentioned earlier, in my sentiment, the concluding trigger was pulled by those people themselves for the most portion.

After reading the book it merely struck me how unsafe stereotyping can be. Prostitution, for case, when talking about it, many people would instantly believe of the danger, the ugliness, the maltreatment of drugs and intoxicant, and even deathlike diseases to be associated with. Which, once more, is non wholly untrue at some grade. However, is it needfully healthy for people to of course tie in those certain characters with that group of people? As it was stated before, I believe that for some people, it is merely a occupation, a occupation that can non and should non specify who they are. In the book, after an aging toilet had a shot, the belowground universe of that saloon seemed to set his new province in a surprisingly natural mode. No 1 was ill-mannered about it, alternatively, every portion of that belowground community found a manner to take attention of him. For illustration, as it was mentioned by Sudhir, “There was ever a itinerant cab to drive him place, a service that included a personal bodyguard upstairs to his flat. Several of the sex workers made certain his electric refrigerator was filled with sandwiches and his bathroom had toilet paper ( p.51 ) .” It was surprising for me to read about this since, let’s face it, the state of affairs would be manner different if it happened in our “above-ground” universe.

This got me believing if those people have a stronger bond between each other. I could non halt inquiring if the people that lives in the belowground economic system – cocottes or drug traders – merely take attention of each other because they were financially bonded together or because they really care for each other. Are the relationships between them exist so impermanent that they were merely about the money? Do they truly desire to take attention of each other because they feel that they belong at that place, in the belowground economic system? Or are they merely less hypocrite and judgmental than we are? Merely because they are making the occupation that is non publically acceptable, should we deny the fact that possibly they are merely every bit descent as we are, if non more? Possibly it is about clip for us to rethink the image that we frequently associate the belowground universe with and seek to halt seting labels and pigeonholing every group.

Overall, I believe that Sudhir has delivered a powerful book that filled with dramatic and interesting narratives about the people that we do non link with on day-to-day footing. However, I would really prefer that he did non do himself the chief character and put so many transitions where he was worrying approximately where he was traveling to acquire his following interview from or being frustrated over the fact that his undertaking was deficiency of way. I felt it would worked better if he would merely seek to associate his life with those narratives alternatively of force the readers to acquire into his caput, to seek to understand his thought procedure. Furthermore, this book does seemed more like it is wrote by a journalist alternatively of a sociologist. It would be interesting to see if Sudhir Venkatesh studied more into this subject and came up with some sociological analysis toward the behaviour of those “underground” people.


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