« Back / Tuesday, August 26, 2014
by Caroline MacNeille '16
Author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz '77 reviews sociologist Alice Goffman's debut: On The Run: Fugitive Life in an American City for the New York Times Book Review. He praises the young sociologist’s work as "revelatory and sobering” while identifying the questions it poses to society going forward: "The question we now need to ask is clear: How do we emerge from the wreckage left by a public policy that posited young black men as the enemy?"
“On the Run” is, first and foremost, a remarkable feat of reporting. Its author, Alice Goffman, a young sociologist, had an ethnography assignment for an undergraduate class at the University of Pennsylvania, and she, the daughter of the renowned sociologist Erving Goffman (1922-82), didn’t take it lightly.
The level of detail in this book and Goffman’s ability to understand her subjects’ motivations are astonishing — and riveting. Indeed, it’s a power of “On the Run” that her insights and conclusions feel so honest to what she’s seen and heard. She depicts a community where trust has evaporated.
Ultimately, what Goffman experienced living alongside these men is both revelatory and sobering. The question we now need to ask is clear: How do we emerge from the wreckage left by a public policy that posited young black men as the enemy?
Image: c/o Chicago Now
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Alex Kotlowitz will discuss threats facing higher education with President Michael S. Roth '78 and NBC Correspondent John Yang '80 on Sept. 11 in Chicago. Learn more and RSVP
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