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Cover for Drift


Illicit Mobility and Uncertain Knowledge

Jeff Ferrell


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/16/2018)


“This book was written late in the North American night, with the rumbling thuds and booming train horns of the nearby rail yard echoing through my windows, reminding me of the train hoppers and gutter punks out there rolling through the darkness.”
In Drift, Jeff Ferrell shows how dislocation and disorientation can become phenomena in their own right. Examining the history of drifting, he situates contemporary drift within today’s economic, legal, and cultural dynamics. He also highlights a distinctly North American form of drift—that of the train-hopping hobo—by tracing the hobo’s legal and political history and by detailing his own immersion in the world of contemporary train-hoppers. Along the way, Ferrell sheds light on the ephemeral intensity of drifting communities and explores the contested politics of drift: the strategies that legal authorities employ to control drifters in the interest of economic development, the social and spatial dislocations that these strategies ironically exacerbate, and the ways in which drifters create their own slippery forms of resistance. Ferrell concludes that drift constitutes a necessary subject of social inquiry and a way of revitalizing social inquiry itself, offering as it does new models for knowing and engaging with the contemporary world.

Praise For Drift: Illicit Mobility and Uncertain Knowledge

"Managing to drift without stalling or meandering, his study is a rewarding, sensitive and provocative piece of work...a stylish study of the idea and realities of vagrancy."
— The Quietus

"The imagination lying behind the words on the page is a delight to be exposed to. I doubt you will read a more enjoyable and thought-provoking book for some time to come. So treat yourself: give some time to this one. It willnot disappoint."
— The British Journal of Criminology

“Well researched and rich in human stories, it is also thoroughly informed by passion and respect and, as such, it is a truly inspirational work.”
— Ethnography and Qualitative Research

"A gripping, eminently readable account and cultural analysis of connected sociopolitical and cultural events, and the narrative defines the concept of drift and situates it in the context of global and local capitalism, glocalization, and most importantly, the experience of drifters. . . . This book is excellent; it deserves to be read, shared, and used by those both within and outside or academia."
— American Journal of Sociology

University of California Press, 9780520295551, 280pp.

Publication Date: March 16, 2018

About the Author

Jeff Ferrell is Professor of Sociology at Texas Christian University and Visiting Professor of Criminology at the University of Kent. He is the author of Crimes of Style, Tearing Down the Streets, and Empire of Scrounge and the coauthor of Cultural Criminology: An Invitation.