Little fascinates New Yorkers more than doormen, who know far more about tenants than tenants know about them. Doormen know what their tenants eat, what kind of movies they watch, whom they spend time with, whether they drink too much, and whether they have kinky sex. But if doormen are unusually familiar with their tenants, they are also socially very distant. In Doormen, Peter Bearman untangles this unusual dynamic to reveal the many ways that tenants and doormen negotiate their complex relationship.
Combining observation, interviews, and survey information, Doormen provides a deep and enduring ethnography of the occupational role of doormen, the dynamics of the residential lobby, and the mundane features of highly consequential social exchanges between doormen and tenants. Here, Bearman explains why doormen find their jobs both boring and stressful, why tenants feel anxious about how much of a Christmas bonus their neighbors give, and how everyday transactions small and large affect tenants' professional and informal relationships with doormen.
In the daily life of the doorman resides the profound, and this book provides a brilliant account of how tenants and doormen interact within the complex world of the lobby.