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July 17th, 2008, 18:18
I just finished reading _Gang Leader For A Day_, by Sudhir Venkatesh. He's a sociologist who spent the better part of a decade hanging out with a crack gang in a Chicago housing project, and the book is a memoir of that period. (He started out with the bright idea of doing field research on the topic, and walked into a crack house armed with a clipboard and a questionnaire that started with 'How do you feel about being black and poor? A) Very bad B) Somewhat bad C) Neither bad nor good D) Somewhat good E) Very good.' Apparently the correct answer, namely "Fuck you," didn't figure on the list.)

It's utterly fascinating; he gives a picture both of the daily life in the ghetto and of the immensely strong social and economic structures that lock people in it. Highly recommended reading for anyone interested in how the other side lives. It's also immensely absorbing; I read it at one sitting.
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