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The Man in the Dog ParkComing Up Close to Homelessness$
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Cathy A. Small

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748783

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748783.001.0001

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The Stigma of Being Homeless

The Stigma of Being Homeless

(p.24) 3 The Stigma of Being Homeless
The Man in the Dog Park

Cathy A. Small

Jason Kordosky

Ross Moore

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on the stigma of being homeless. As demanding and unpleasant as the physical conditions of being homeless are, they are not, for many, the primary challenge of being without a residence. One of the most difficult transitions for individuals in becoming homeless is taking on the homeless identity. The chapter then identifies three discourses that people use to discuss and interpret homelessness: (1) sin-talk, in which homelessness is seen to arise from the character flaws or immorality of the homeless individual; (2) sick-talk, in which homelessness is framed as an illness that should be treated and cured; and (3) system-talk, in which homelessness is framed as the product of systemic injustice or instability. These narratives do not simply represent public perception; they enter, regionally and historically, into policy decisions. Indeed, they affect the homeless' view of themselves.

Keywords:   stigma, homeless people, homeless identity, homelessness, immorality, illness, systemic injustice, systemic instability, public perception, policy decisions

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