Introducing the Social Sciences
This essay is a review of a film which brings ‘’the street’’ into our attention as a source of revealing how people, objects and ways of living are assembled to make up our social lives applied on an street which I know. This assignment has three parts: first, it does a short presentation of how the process of observation started, second it moves to a discussion of the street as a social space for scientific observation, on one hand and of social life production on the other hand. The last parts points to some critiques and draws some general conclusions about the street as a unit of analysis that captures society.
Any process of learning is based on observation. There is a difference between an everyday observation which is contingent, spontaneous, in a way naive and a scientific view which is developed through a guided process of describing, questioning, giving arguments, bringing evidence and criticism of what it is seen. In this respect, the street is largely used by sociologists and not only to describe the way social interactions are made and repaired. It is a window to issues about the society, and portrays how differences and inequalities are produced. I will take as subject of my observation a street from where I lived and which I know well. The street is called ‘Blackstock Road’, which is a major road in north London. ‘Blackstock Road’ has a history in itself that started 300 years ago. The ‘Hackney Brook’ which is now one of the subterranean rivers of London, used to run into where ‘Blackstock Road’ sits now. For much of the 18th century was a renowned hostelry known as the Eel Pie House, serving pies with eels that had been fished out of the river (Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia). Nowadays as many other streets, it is also full of shops, cafes, restaurants and takeaways. But not only physical aspect of the street changed. Not once I was involved in small talks with people from shops and on the street....
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