Combining observation, interviews, and survey information, Doormen provides a deep and enduring ethnography of the occupational role of doormen, the dynamics of the residential lobby, and the mundane features of highly consequential social exchanges between doormen and tenants. Here, Bearman explains why doormen find their jobs both boring and stressful, why tenants feel anxious about how much of a Christmas bonus their neighbors give, and how everyday transactions small and large affect tenants' professional and informal relationships with doormen.
In the daily life of the doorman resides the profound, and this book provides a brilliant account of how tenants and doormen interact within the complex world of the lobby.
1. Interpersonal Closeness and Social Distance
2. A Foot in the Door
3. Serving Time
4. Crossing the Line
5. Status Displays
6. The Bonus
7. The Union
Appendix: Study Design (and Some Notes on Teaching Field-Based Classes)
"Ever wonder what lurks in the hearts and minds of those stoic, unflappable, dapperly uniformed men (yes, they're nearly always men) who man the doors of your city's apartment buildings? Provoked by his own awkward interaction with his friend's doorman, Bearman, a sociologist at Columbia University, embarked on this exhaustive study of New York City doormen and the often complex dynamics between them and their buildings' tenants. . . . Much of the meat of the book resides in the many short interviews with doormen speaking their (normally unspoken) minds. . . . What they reveal is well worth the price of admission."
"Illuminating and different."
CUNY: Elliot Liebow Ethnography Prize