Archive for May 26th, 2009

Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg’s latest ethnography gives an excellent portrayal of the construction and contestation of economic networks among the homeless in urban San Francisco.

This powerful study immerses the reader in the world of homelessness and drug addiction in the contemporary United States.


The result is a dispassionate chronicle of survival, loss, caring, and hope rooted in the addicts’ determination to hang on for one more day and one more “fix” through a “moral economy of sharing” that precariously balances mutual solidarity and interpersonal betrayal.”

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Living in Less

Home sizes are shrinking…

Though the square footage of new houses tends to dip modestly in recessions, the size of the American home has essentially increased since 1973. But that changed last year, when the size of the typical house suddenly shrunk by 11%. That appears to be faster than at any time since the 1970s.

“People are realizing, ‘Hey, I don’t need the Lexus anymore,’ ” said Wayne Eide of the Development Group, builder of the Terraces. ” ‘I can live with the Camry.’ ”

The National Assn. of Home Builders recently surveyed its members and found 90% of them are building smaller now. Developers cite many factors: increased energy consciousness, empty-nest baby boomers looking to downsize. But the strongest motivator is clearly the sagging economy.


“Families and lifestyles are changing,” said Bobbie Cooper, director of sales [for real estate company, The Development Group]. “In 2005 you couldn’t build it big enough. Now it’s all about getting back to the basics.”

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