Beginning with homelessness: a rhizoanalysis of neoliberalism, social justice, and community

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kathleen Elizabeth Edwards (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Silvia Bettez

Abstract: Homelessness in the United States is identified as a social problem (Amster, 2008; Gowan, 2010; Marvasti, 2003; Stern, 1984). It receives attention from social service agencies, local and national government departments, faith-based institutions, advocacy groups, legal organizations, and grassroots coalitions. It has implications at both local and national levels. The people experiencing homelessness—their unique stories, perspectives, and ways of being—are overshadowed, even usurped, by constituted ideas about homelessness; as a result they themselves are surveilled, categorized, and pathologized. Additionally, the concept of homelessness is hegemonized, disciplined through a master narrative imbricated with crisis, pity, victim-blaming, medicalization, and criminalization. This rhizoanalysis considers how the current master narrative of homelessness as a social problem is a form of oppression and domination fed by neoliberalism and often evaluated by whether one is a “contributing member of society.” The intractability of this narrative makes it very difficult to radically imagine a construction of homelessness beyond that which is, yet, people are resisting this status quo and imagining a different future in which they hope to live. Informed by a postmodern, anarchist, feminist epistemology, I apply various methods in this dissertation, including critical storytelling, performance narrative, and qualitative inquiry with people experiencing homelessness, to (a) understand and expose the dominant narrative about homelessness, (b) identify ways that homelessness is used as a resistance tactic against oppression, and (c) imagine new ways of engaging with each other and the world around us.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Bricolage, Community building, Homelessness, Neoliberalism, Rhizoanalysis, Social justice
Homeless persons $z United States
Homelessness $z United States
Neoliberalism $z United States
Communities $z United States
Social justice $z United States

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