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ChatChat - Claudia Cragg

Oct 16, 2013

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Hustlers, strivers, dealers and call girls are the subject of discussion by KGNU's Claudia Cragg (for 'It's The Economy') with Sudhir Venkatesh about his latest book, 'Floating City. The work is a study both of a changing aspect of New York and its economy but also, some say, a changing aspect of the author (a Columubia sociologist) himself.

Here Venkatesh seems to propose that, unlike in other cities, immigrants wanting to make it big in New York – to transcend traditional barriers and improve their lot, licitly or otherwise – need to learn to “float”. The drug-dealer who wants to graduate to selling cocaine to wealthy upper-middle class clients needs to find a way to “float” into that milieu, via contacts, brokers, connections in new worlds. Those who cannot work their way through, past, over these barriers will fail; a would-be high class escort unable to “appreciate good food [or] discuss politics and the opera” with clients will never achieve her aim.

Venkatesh believes too, though, that there are lessons from New York's less orthodox financial world that others in cities around the States and elsewhere would also do well to learn.