In Sidewalk, sociologist Mitchell Duneier presents the results of his research on sidewalk life by staying and working on the street along with other vendors for a period of time. While working on the street Duneier learned that respect plays an important role, that people on the street require respect to stay on the sidewalk. Respect allows Duneier to successfully perform him research, determines how individuals are going to be treated, and helps maintain order on the sidewalk as all the people related to the sidewalk, also including pedestrians and store employees, desire to be respected.
Mitchell Duneier began this research in the Nineteen Nineties in New York. Sixth Avenue was a place where numerous vendors and panhandlers, mostly blacks and other minorities, earn money every day. Vendors were to sell magazines and books they could find(bought from scavengers or found from dumpsters by themselves) and panhandlers either stood and sat on the sidewalk and asked passerby for spare change. There were also several other kinds of “jobs” on the street such as scavengers, movers, and storage keepers. Duneier wanted to uncover more about the sidewalk life, so he decided to work on the street along with the vendors and panhandlers in order to get first hand experience and to have the opportunity to interview the people working on the street with ease.
Respect is vital to Duneier as he needs the vendors’ complete approval and cooperation to finish his research in order for Duneier to finish his research. Since Duneier is exceedingly different from the people working on the street in various aspects(he is a wealthy and educated white sociologist who did not have to worry about anything while growing up), he has to gradually gain respect from the people. There is a conversation between X and Y on the street about Duneier interviewed one of them and the conversation was recorded. X says claims that the research “‘[is] more for them, the white people.’”(337) X and Y did not show respect to Duneier even though they seemed like they were willing to work with Duneier to conduct an interview. Duneier did have exceptionally close relationships with a few vendors on the street. Duneier, even though not getting respect from everyone working on the street, respects people he writes about by not lying about them in anyway, “The question for me is how to show respect for the people I write about, given the impossibility of complete sincerity at every moment (in research as in life)”(336). Another way Duneier shows respect to the people on the street is using the tape recorder. Using the tape recorder tells the vendors and panhandlers that whatever they tell duneier the truth will not be altered in any way. “I decided that if I was interested in getting meanings right, I had to strive to my utmost to get exact words right, too”(339). Respect is crucial due to the fact that it could directly affect Duneier’s research.
Often times skin color determines whether...