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Session Overview
RN37_01b_P: Homelessness in the City
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Rui Carvalho, Brown University
Location: PC.6.31
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 6.

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The objective of this paper is to know the social representations about the homeless people in Spain. Starting from a qualitative methodology, a compilation and analysis of the press was made. The theoretical framework started from theories about the new strategies of criminalization of homelessness. Among the main findings, we can highlight the following: 1. Criminalizing tendencies, which insist on depict the homeless through stereotypes and stigmatizing. 2. Images and ideas that point to homeless as subjects who are potentially dangerous to the rest of society. So the hygienist and segregating foundations remain largely present when the homeless are warehoused in shelters located in the outskirts of the city or in industrial areas with scarcely any services, or when insisting on the continued creation of "bounded spaces". 3. In that same framework, the measures and regulations that punish the homeless are framed in favor of their criminalization and prohibit the access to and exercise of their rights. 4. Thus, the old norms that ordered the forced rounding up of beggars and penalized the alleged threat posed by vagrants, now take the form of anti-homeless laws (civic ordinances), that under the guise of supposedly protecting of the quality of life of citizens, again stigmatize and criminalize the homeless as dangerous subjects that threaten the coexistence and prosperity of the city. 5. A struggle for the control of a public space. In this, the logic of privatization and commercial profitability prevails and from which are generated spaces of exclusion and privilege according to the type of citizenship.

“Me and the City”. Social and Visual Representations of Homelessness

Veronica Polin1, Michele Bertani2

1University of Verona, Italy; 2University of Verona, Italy

In our paper, we present a socio-economic analysis of the relationship between urban space and homelessness. The empirical work has been realized in Verona, a middle-size town in Northern Italy, during seven months in 2016.

Our research gives voice to people with different profiles of homelessness (from people sleeping in the street to women victims of domestic violence living in protected houses) and involves them as active social actors in the fieldwork and in the data collection. 13 participants has been selected with a mandate to photograph things, people and significant places in their daily lives. Thereafter, the collected photos have been analyzed jointly by the research team and by the participants, using two qualitative techniques: photo-elicitation and focus groups.

Preliminary results suggest that the emotional, relational, symbolic and material aspects of the city clearly emerges in the various meanings that it assumes from the photos and from the words of the participants. The city is seen as a symbol of the need of work, as a special place that could offer peace and serenity in a period of troubles, as beauty, as aid received by the associations and voluntary organizations, as need for ‘home’ and security about their future, as a place where to implement effective survival strategies, as a place in which to assert their rights as citizens and to make their voices heard in the design of public social policies.

Interrelationships between enhanced safety orientations and the trajectories of street careers among homeless youth

Karina Fernandez, Otto Bodi-Fernandez

University of Graz, Austria

The centers of large cities have always been used by different groups in different ways. Till today class- and group-specific forms of appropriation and use of public space compete with each other. Increasingly, the demand for control and regulatory measures such as video surveillance or increased police presence is getting louder. This paper is based on a study on homelessness among young people in a midsized city in Austria. The aim of the study was to explore the trajectories of juvenile homeless and develop a model, which describes street careers. The chosen research methodology was a Grounded Theory Ethnography, which included a six-month participatory observation, 45 interviews and a pedestrian questionnaire. This contribution highlights the relationship between the shift in society towards an enhanced safety orientation and the processes of street careers. Special attention is paid to the appropriation of space by young people and to subsequent expulsion strategies by public authorities. In comparison to studies of the 90s, the analyses showed that due to social transformation processes these young people have to deal with more exclusionary mechanisms today. This has strong effects on their trajectories. For example due to the increasing expulsion from the public space that has been increasing in Austria within the last 10 years, they have become vulnerable because they are no longer reachable for the institutions of social work. The strategies this young people apply to assert themselves on the street and the reactions of the urban society will be discussed.

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