October 9, 4:30pm: Jeff Lane, “The Digital Street”

Presenter: Jeff Lane, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, Princeton University

Time: Wednesday, October 9, 4:30-6:00pm

Location: Room 1631, Hunter West, Hunter College, 695 Park Ave., New York, NY 10065

RSVP: hunterdigitalsociety@gmail.com

Abstract: This talk explores the relationship between street life and Internet use, an intersection urbanists and technologists typically ignore that is now pivotal to understanding social organization in the inner city.  My research adapts a premise of urban ethnography—studying social worlds on the street corner—to the digital era in which relations and events on the sidewalk link to social ties and interactions online.  Drawing on the experiences of teenagers in social scenes that are based on streets in Harlem and simultaneously networked online, I illustrate ethnographically various layers and forms of social contact within an inner-city neighborhood.  I depict two facets of street life across face-to-face and mediated contexts—interactions amongst unacquainted boys and girls and the code of the street—to show how time and space distend on the digital street as teens leverage interpersonal media to either blunt or amplify the emotional intensity and social meaning of high-stakes encounters.  I argue the migration online of interactions once bounded on a corner renders street life porous within and beyond the community, shaping in new ways teenagers’ relationships with peers and elders as well as to the institutions of school, work, and the criminal justice system.

Jeffrey Lane is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University as well as a fellow of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.  His dissertation work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and has informed a set of law enforcement and law policy recommendations for at-risk youth funded by New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. His research has been featured on Ronaldo Lemos’s TV show on technology and policy issues, Mod MTV.  In 2007, Lane published a book with University of Nebraska Press entitled Under the Boards on the production of race and popular culture in the basketball industry.

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