Friday, January 18, 2008

Thugs watching The Wire

For those of you who've read Freakonomics, you'll remember Sudhir Venkatesh. He's the sociology graduate student who accidentally runs into a drug gang. This evolves into a fascinating account of how drug gangs are organized like modern corporations with a few successful people at the top and a lot of poorly paid employees at the bottom.

Venkatesh is now a Professor of Sociology at Columbia where he continues his research on "...ethnographic investigation of urban neighborhoods in the United States". Recently, he's been a guest blogger on the Freakonomics blog where he is writing about watching HBO's The Wire with a collection of New York City "street figures" (aka thugs)! In his first post he explains:

Last year, I learned a lot by watching a few episodes of The Wire with gang leaders in Chicago. So, a few weeks ago, I called a few respected street figures in the New York metro region to watch the upcoming fifth season. I couldn’t think of a better way to ensure quality control.

He then proceeds to describe what happened as they watched the first episode of the current season. His second post is focused on:

What price, a cop? I posed this question to several self-described “thugs” after the airing of the second episode of The Wire, season five.

Not surprisingly, it makes for fascinating reading.

1 comment:

AV said...

Interesting character Mr. Venkatesh - in the latest Economist, he is delving deep into another underworld area of interest.

To pique your interest, here's an excerpt:

"The star attraction there was Steven Levitt, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and co-author of “Freakonomics”, a best-selling book. Mr Levitt presented preliminary findings* from a study conducted with Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist at Columbia University. Their research on the economics of street prostitution combines official arrest records with data on 2,200 “tricks” (transactions), collected by Mr Venkatesh in co-operation with sex workers in three Chicago districts."


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