In his brief lecture on “trespass, trash and train” at the TEDxCMU conference sociology professor and cultural criminologist Jeff Ferrell talks about the culture of control and regulations in everyday life. In this regard he takes three examples which seem to have nothing in common at first sight:
Trespassing signs which are supposed to control and regulate movement and specific actions in public spaces, dumpster diving as a (in many cases) forbidden practice that rewards the deviant dumpster diver with fascination insights into post-industrial consumer culture and finally train hoppers, who – in the American tradition of hobo culture – explore the country and in some way break with the rhythm and the pathways of modern society’s life defining and finding one’s identity.
All these examples have in common that they not only refer to a refusal to obey to modern societies’ various rules and regulations, but the examination of (or even the participation in) the illicit practices and subcultures allow the ethnographic researcher to widen the (academic) imagination and unintentionally drift to fascinating fields of study.
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