Street Sellers Of Nineteenth-Century London Analysis

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The article “A Dangerous Class: The Street Sellers of Nineteenth-Century London,” by Stephan Jankiewicz, builds on the works of Henry Mayhew to provide further insight into the demographics and social role of the street selling class in London. The author is a professor of history with a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, specializing in 19th and 20th century history. He argues that street sellers were self-aware, challenged the bourgeoisie, resisted the pull of capitalism, and had an integral role in the production and consumption of products for the lower class. The article is thoroughly researched and provides plenty of support for its argument, however, it can be repetitive and some of the arguments are obvious conclusions and do not need…show more content…
In the section entitled “The Historical Significance of the Street Seller,” Jankiewicz establishes that the street selling community has a unique role in society, and therefore did not fit in with the common workers’ class. Although the support for this argument is logical, it does not use relevant primary sources. The author refers to Karl Marx’s statement that “exchange is the means of finishing the product and making it fit for direct consumption. To that extent, exchange is an act comprised within production itself,” however this phrase does not relate to what the author is arguing and therefore detracts from his point. Instead, the majority of the argument that street sellers have a unique role in society comes directly from Jankiewicz himself and is unsourced. The unsourced material undermines his argument, as he claims that street sellers had a unique role in the production process, but cannot verify this fact. Although he later uses a primary source to support the claim that fruit sellers washed and dressed their food, and thus did have a role in the production process (although it is not unique to street sellers), he does not adequately prove that street sellers had a truly unique role in their society. Although this point would have supported the thesis, the argument is not fully developed and offers a one-sided viewpoint that is…show more content…
While this argument is logical and supported by modern academic Gareth Stedman Jones and primary researcher John Thompson, the paragraph itself lacks organization and clarity. The introducing sentence, “If economic relations defined street sellers as a class. These relations became articulated in a variety of ways,” is unclear and would work better as a body sentence, not an introduction. Later in the paragraph, Jankiewicz clarifies his argument and makes it convincing and more relevant to his thesis, but the introduction is misleading and confusing to read. The argument is based off of the work of John Thompson, who explains how street sellers interacted with each other, had their own hierarchy of wares, and communicated within their group, which allowed them to spread news between themselves quickly and efficiently . Thompson’s research demonstrates that street sellers were a class of their own and this class was different than the lower, middle, or upper classes of the time. Although this section is heavy in quotations and light on analyses or explications, Jankiewicz is still successful in proving his

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