Representing Homeless ness in America: Portrayls of Homelessness in Popular Culture and the Stories Homeless People Tell About Themselves

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Josiah Ramsay Johnston (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site:
John Wood

Abstract: Portrayals of American homelessness and its causes issue from different parts of society,from popular culture in the form of films and newspaper articles to the views of homeless individuals themselves. While the former media reach broad audiences and may influence cultural conceptions of homelessness, the latter are rarely broadcast so widely. Unlike the‘external’ representations of homelessness created for entertainment and the dissemination ofinformation, ‘internal’ depictions of indigency from those experiencing it are complex,idiosyncratic stories about individual cases of homelessness. These different kinds of portrayals are created for decidedly different purposes, yet it is an assumption of this paper that each type of depiction has an influence on the broader cultural conception of homelessness in the U.S.A. Thus each will be examined for the way homelessness is presented, rather than the reason it is presented. The stories of the indigent are arguably the most important source of information for understanding the current nature of homelessness in America, yet the general public is often most-informed on the ‘social problem’ of homelessness through the aforementioned media. Howdo these two types of stories about homelessness differ, and to what effect? It is the aim of this study to investigate and compare some of the different kinds of stories told about homelessness in America.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
homelessness, social problems, stigmatization

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