Little fascinates New Yorkers more than doormen, who know far more about tenants than tenants know about them. Doormen know what their tenants eat, what kind of movies they watch, whom they spend time with, whether they drink too much, and whether they have kinky sex. But if doormen are unusually familiar with their tenants, they are also socially very distant. In Doormen, Peter Bearman untangles this unusual dynamic to reveal the many ways that tenants and doormen negotiate their complex relationship.
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.
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. Though any urban dweller will find something of interest, this isn't really a layman's book, and Bearman's prosaic handling dries out a potentially fruitful subject. He tends to spend too much time examining the obvious questions (e.g., why do doormen find their jobs at once "boring and stressful"?), while barely touching upon others that seem deeper and more fertile, such as the ways in which tenants tend to see their doormen as "socially dead." Because Bearman refuses for the most part to engage in any real cultural observations beyond some obvious extrapolations from his data, much of the meat of the book resides in the many short interviews with doormen speaking their (normally unspoken) minds. But what they reveal is well worth the price of admission. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.