Sudhir Venkatesh, unlike his professors and classmates took the Chicago urban streets head on. Despite having a detailed map of areas to avoid by the university, this didn’t stop the curious mind Venkatesh of exploring the city streets of Chicago and talking to locals in the area. Venkatesh did state he had an interest in the poor black community, so he would focus his time and energy, talking, reading and questioning anything that involved the black community.
Being from a suburban area in California, Venkatesh was not exposed to the urban streets of Chicago, so walking the streets he had no fear and always wondered by the University restricted certain areas when he never witnessed no crime. Venkatesh was studying Sociology in Graduate School and while he like many of the questions that was being proposed in his seminar classes, he disliked the how sociologist had no real connections with people. He felt surveys didn’t capture the true vibrant life of Chicago. As Venkatesh states, I found it particularly curious that most of these researchers didn’t seem interested in meeting the people they wrote about.Pg 3
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In Venkatesh memoir Gang leader for a Day, he is labeled as a rogue sociologist, but he is anything away from a rogue researcher. He is a prime example who what a Sociologist should be doing. But what Venkatesh did is far from new since ethnographies does have many advantages. Qualitative research allows for one to expose their mind to those they wish to study. Sometimes sociologist forget the people aspect or sociology and just focus on numbers. According to Merriam dictionary, Sociology is the science of society, social institutions, and social relationships. Cant study social relationships without interacting with people
One advantage that qualitative research has is overt participant observation. Since Venkatesh had South East ethic background in was easy for him to blend in to his environment because he passed for Hispanic and on occasion Arabic despite being of Indian heritage. Since He was a person of color people were willing to talk to him and had a little more trust in him as opposed if he was a white man conducting the same interview. During this study we learned this one gang operated like a cooperate company with the low level employees being the grunts on the gang to the Board of Directors, just like in a big company made the most money and also made decisions how the gang is going to operate.
Another advantage of this type of research is that it allows you to know the participants on a more personal’ level. Allows you to understand the behavior, characters and other human traits that quantitative research can’t duplicate.
As a grad student Venkatesh didn’t have a lot money to do mass surveys or research,
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