Presented by Rocío Rosales, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine
Fruteros: Street Vending, Illegality, and Ethnic Community in Los Angeles
This work examines the social worlds of young Latino street vendors as they navigate the complexities of local and federal laws prohibiting both their presence and their work on street corners. Known as fruteros, they sell fruit salads out of pushcarts throughout Los Angeles and are part of the urban landscape. Drawing on six years of fieldwork, I offer a compelling portrait of their day-to-day struggles. In the process, I examine how their paisano (hometown compatriot) social networks both help and exploit them. Much of the work on newly arrived Latino immigrants focuses on the ways in which their social networks allow them to survive. I argue that this understanding of ethnic community simplifies the complicated ways in which social networks and social capital work. My research on fruteros sheds light on those complexities and offers the concept of the “ethnic cage” to explain both the promise and pain of community.
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