PERFECT STRANGERS

 

How do people interact with one another in the city? How does street theater impact those relationships?

What impact do those relationships have on the character of city spaces?

IN BRIEF

This award-winning ethnography explores the experience of alienation that defines the late capitalist American city – and how street performers, through their performances, change the relationships that strangers have with one another.

Strangers go from having a relationship of indifference to one of intimacy as they bond with one another through the shared experience of being members in the same audience. While street shows are transient, their presence in an area creates a distinctive "vibe." That "vibe" begins to define the space, which in turn draws more people to the area.

read rewritten excerpts at The Busking Project's blog

or download the full thesis

THE RESEARCH

Felice conducted her fieldwork through the winter of 2013 to the summer of 2014, where she spent her weekends primarily with the street performers on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. With her background as a magician, she became both a participant and an observer of Chicago's street performing community.

THE EARL S. AND ESTHER JOHNSON PRIZE

Felice's thesis on urban sociality was awarded the Earl S. and Esther Johnson Prize, through the University of Chicago's Master of Arts Program in Social Sciences (MAPSS). The Johnson Prize is awarded annually to MAPSS students whose papers best combines high scholarly achievement with concern for humanistic aspirations and the practical applications of the Social Sciences.

Perfect Strangers: revaluing urban sociality

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

“If my ankle wasn’t bad, I’d boogie.” ∙ 1

Revaluing Urban Sociality ∙ 4

“Welcome to the Streets.” ∙ 6

 

Cities and Alienation

“It’s Sam Walton’s Hustle.” ∙ 8

Lost in Urban Space ∙ 11

 

Representations of Street Performing

“It’s a lot of wealth. You have to keep them happy.” ∙ 16

“They’re not trying to build anything.” ∙ 21

 

Space as a Medium and Technique for the Creation of Subjects

The “Time Bubble” ∙ 28

On the Subject of Subject Creation ∙ 31

The “Connection” that brings them in ∙ 40

 

Value

“We don’t need any money. Give what you like.” ∙ 44

“Donation helps a cause.” ∙ 46

“You’re only as good as your audience.” ∙ 54

 

Conclusion

“You can only do it in the city.” ∙ 56

 

Works Cited ∙ 56