Off the books: the underground economy of the urban poor

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Harvard University Press,
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Listen to a short interview with Sudhir VenkateshHost: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane

In this revelatory book, Sudhir Venkatesh takes us into Maquis Park, a poor black neighborhood on Chicago's Southside, to explore the desperate, dangerous, and remarkable ways in which a community survives. We find there an entire world of unregulated, unreported, and untaxed work, a system of living off the books that is daily life in the ghetto. From women who clean houses and prepare lunches for the local hospital to small-scale entrepreneurs like the mechanic who works in an alley; from the preacher who provides mediation services to the salon owner who rents her store out for gambling parties; and from street vendors hawking socks and incense to the drug dealing and extortion of the local gang, we come to see how these activities form the backbone of the ghetto economy.

What emerges are the innumerable ways that these men and women, immersed in their shadowy economic pursuits, are connected to and reliant upon one another. The underground economy, as Venkatesh's subtle storytelling reveals, functions as an intricate web, and in the strength of its strands lie the fates of many Maquis Park residents. The result is a dramatic narrative of individuals at work, and a rich portrait of a community. But while excavating the efforts of men and women to generate a basic livelihood for themselves and their families, Off the Books offers a devastating critique of the entrenched poverty that we so often ignore in America, and reveals how the underground economy is an inevitable response to the ghetto's appalling isolation from the rest of the country.

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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 9b5eb403-8c78-31e7-9aff-1bab3c2a3eb8
full_title off the books the underground economy of the urban poor
author venkatesh sudhir alladi
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2017-06-24 11:03:23AM

Solr Details

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author Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi.
author-letter Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi.
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oclc (OCoLC)69672046
owning_library_arlington Arlington Public Library, Aurora Hills, Central, Cherrydale, Columbia Pike, Connection Crystal City, Detention Center, Glencarlyn, Local History, Plaza, Shirlington, Westover
owning_location_arlington Central
physical xix, 426 p. ; 22 cm.
popularity 8
primary_isbn 9780674023550
publishDate 2006
publishDateSort 2006
publisher Harvard University Press,
rating 2.5
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record_details ils:.b12982234|Book|Books||English|Harvard University Press,|2006.|xix, 426 p. ; 22 cm.
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subject_facet Informal sector (Economics) -- Illinois -- Chicago, Poor -- Illinois -- Chicago
table_of_contents Living underground -- Home at work -- The entrepreneur -- The street hustler -- The preacher -- Our gang -- As the shady world turns.
target_audience Adult
target_audience_full Adult
title Off the books : the underground economy of the urban poor
title_display Off the books : the underground economy of the urban poor
title_full Off the books : the underground economy of the urban poor / Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh
title_short Off the books :
title_sort off the books the underground economy of the urban poor
title_sub the underground economy of the urban poor