pubic sociology

I remain interested in Sudhir Venkatesh’s research on black and grey market economies, including prostitution in New York. (Full disclosure: he was on my dissertation committee.) Here’s a recent piece in Wired Magazine, reporting some details from his survey of almost 300 sex workers. While there’s some compelling, curious and quite sad information included, I’m left discomforted at the formatting of the piece, which looks more like a fashion magazine “how to” insert (or, even more accurately, the time use almanacs that dude publishes every year…and which I now cannot remember the name of nor find Nicholas Felton) than a journalistic reporting of life as a sex worker. For example, in the list of items sex workers carry with them, “extra panties” for clients who want a “souvenir” is accompanied by a charming little line drawing of a pair of bikini underwear, right next to a drawing of lubricant and bandages for “rashes, rawness and bruises.” Having just bought some of Edward Tufte’s work, I feel certain that soon I’ll have a precise way to describe this disjuncture between intention and visual representation.

Update: With this article, Sudhir becomes the first sociologist I know of to make Perez Hilton.

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