BSA Annual Conference Plenary Speaker, Alice Goffman: On the Run, Fugitive Life in an American City
On the Run describes young men growing up as suspects and fugitives in the segregated Black neighbourhoods torn apart by the war on crime and unprecedented levels of targeted imprisonment. Alongside young men dipping and dodging the authorities, we come to know girlfriends and mothers caught between the men they love and the police; the “clean” residents of the neighbourhood who struggle to go to school and work every day as the police chase their neighbours through the streets; and the young people eking out a living in the new fugitive economy: providing clean urine, fake documents, and off the books medical care to people living with warrants or under court supervision. This fugitive world is the hidden counterpoint to mass incarceration, the invisible cost of a massive and unprecedented social experiment on the residents of segregated Black neighbourhoods in US cities.
Alice Goffman is a sociologist who grew up in Philadelphia and attended graduate school at Princeton. She works in the urban ethnography tradition of Howard Becker, Elijah Anderson, and Mitchell Duneier, sometimes called the Chicago School. The idea is sustained engagement in a community, obsessive note taking, and the close up observation of everyday life over time. Her book, On the Run, draws on six years of fieldwork and describes young men living as suspects and fugitives in an African American neighbourhood torn apart by the war on drugs and unprecedented levels of targeted imprisonment.
Chair: Eileen Green, BSA Vice Chair (University of Teesside)