ethnography: white people in coffee shops

i have been puzzling for years now over white people in coffee shops. why do i like coffee shops so much? why won’t i just make coffee at home? why does it feel social even though i usually go by myself and don’t talk to other people who are there by themselves? what am performing when i’m there, drinking my coffee alone, working on my laptop in silence?

this may seem trivial, but i think the questions get at important intersections of race, class, conspicuous consumption, and gentrification.

my last “strategy” of performing different difficult tasks didn’t leave behind a trace, an object. for this strategy, i want an object. it’s been helpful to dig fairly deeply into trevor paglen’s work because, even though he doesn’t stick to a specific medium, he always leaves behind an object as a record of his investigation—a book, a projection (or the files to display the projection), a satellite prototype.

i could collect things from the spaces:

  • cups or photos of cups
  • photos or sketches of people on their laptops
  • menus
  • recordings of the overhead music

or compile reviews from review websites.

or interview long-time residents of neighborhoods where coffee shops have recently appeared.

or interview people who frequent coffee shops and work in them.

or a google map with new (< 5 years old) coffee shops starred.

UPDATE: i just found out about this project, which maps coffee shops and median rents in san francisco neighborhoods—inspired by the anti-eviction mapping project.

UPDATE: @socalitybarbie. i love this project, but i’m interested in something that goes deeper/does more than just critique. the critique is the easy part.

what 2 wear 2 an interview
what 2 wear 2 an interview

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