chapter  4
12 Pages

Mitchell Duneier Duneier discusses the idea of moral worth and unpacks the centrality of this theme in his studies of disadvantaged urban Black men. He explains the diffi culty of conducting ethnography, and weighs in on the longstanding debate over theory’s rightful place in the practice of fi eldwork

A fundamental theme of my sociological work has been about the struggle to live in accordance with standards of moral worth. I developed this interest in graduate school when I was writing my dissertation, Slim’s Table (Duneier 1994). My goal was to understand the way that working-class and poor working men struggled to live in accordance with standards of respectabilitymoral worth-in a world in which they felt those aspirations were devalued. Many of the men who hung out at the Valois cafeteria did so in an eff ort to form a community with other like-minded people who shared their beliefs

and values. Th ey had seen the ghettos change and transform during their own lifetimes as the South Side was ravaged by deindustrialization and the fl ight of the Black middle class following the Civil Rights Movement.