Benedict Giamo's On the bowery: confronting homelessness in American society PDF

By Benedict Giamo

As either subject matter and position, the Bowery has been wealthy in that means, evocative in organization, lengthy in improvement, and consultant of the inherent clash among tradition and culture. This award-winning interdisciplinary examine places in point of view the social that means and cultural importance of the Bowery from either ancient and modern outlooks, spanning the fields of yankee literature and social background, tradition experiences, symbolic anthropology, ethnography, and social psychology. at the Bowery has specified relevance in delivering continuity for the structures of notion and strategies of intervention that impact responses to the fashionable of homelessness in American towns this day.

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Whereas mystification maneuvers by way of idealized encounter and evasion, the demystifying strategies of critical realism operate by the rhythm of descent and discovery, bringing insights gained from the depths of Bowery subculture back to the surface of culture in order to challenge the settled ways of perceiving, framing, and conceptualizing both condition and process. Mystification is represented in the study by the sensationalistic genre, the urban picturesque school, and the realism of Jacob Riis's reportage and William Dean Howells's commentary and fiction.

Bowery gangs, such as the O'Connell Guards, Atlantic Guards, and American Guards, were, as the recurrent appellations denote, obviously on the defensive. They were protective nativistic associations which often vied for superiority with the Plug Uglies and Dead Rabbits, less assimilated immigrant groups. 15 As with the bloody Astor Place Riots which preceded it in 1845, class tensions and political alliances provided the underlying turbulence for the gang warfare. In general, the riots of antebellum New York were symptomatic of a more regulated and self-conscious social structure, and, lacking the graceful sweep of Mose's aggressive statement, street gangs resorted to desperate tactics in order to voice their discontent and wage their futile wars of dominion.

In short, they are guiding concepts that have been lived, shaping both attitude and conduct. To be sure, the opposing categories seem more remote, otherworldly abstractions: culture, structure, affluence, and mystification. The Bowery does not Page xviii fare well at making this dimension of discourse concrete. At best, these notions are vague remembrances, outlines of the generalized other, both reviled and necessary. Since this study is grounded in an ethnographic encounter, I have included a discussion based on my fieldwork with the contemporary Bowery.

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