Chicago and the Management of Social Research

  • Alexander J. Means
Part of the New Frontiers in Education, Culture, and Politics book series (NFECP)


Alight rain was falling as I made my way from the bus stop toward Romero High School on Chicago’s West Side. As I approached the school, the first thing I noticed was the police vehicle parked in front—a boxy, truck-like paddy wagon. There was an additional police cruiser across the street. The school itself is a massive red brick building featuring about 20 different front doors that were all closed and locked except for one at the far right hand side. I noticed the unmistakable black plastic eye of a surveillance camera above the open door. As I entered the school, I was immediately met by a male African American security guard dressed in a blue uniform. Not official police, I realized, despite the fact that he had a pair of shiny steel handcuffs attached to his belt. I was then asked to put my bag through an airport-like security screener and another similarly dressed female security guard examined its contents via a closed circuit monitor. As I stepped through the metal detector I raised my arms and the male guard gave me a halfhearted pat down. Next, I signed in at the security desk and made my way up the stairs to the main office. On the stairwell, I passed by a large brightly painted mural—a monument to military service featuring a proud-looking Latina in camouflage fatigues set against an American flag background. In the office, I was asked to take a seat and wait for the principal who I came to see regarding potential access for my research. On the wall above the administrative assistant’s desk were four mounted closed circuit television monitors scrolling through images from the school’s many surveillance cameras.


Social Research Great Recession Latino Youth Security Guard Human Security 
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© Alexander J. Means 2013

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  • Alexander J. Means

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