(Re)negotiating the self: homeless women's constructions of home, Homelessness and Identity

MCCARTHY, Lindsey (2015). (Re)negotiating the self: homeless women's constructions of home, Homelessness and Identity. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the oft-neglected experiences of ‘homeless’ women. It explores how homelessness impacts on women’s identities and how this is negotiated and/or resisted. An integrated theoretical framework links homelessness and identity literature with feminist insights surrounding marginalised women. By centring the experiences and identity-work of homeless women, this thesis contributes to bodies of work on homelessness, women and identity from a feminist perspective. The study advances knowledge of home and homelessness and the relationship between these supposedly binary concepts; and contributes to existing understandings of identity, in relation to marginalised women. Findings are based on a combination of in-depth qualitative interviews, participant-produced photographs, and follow-up photo-elicitation interviews with twelve women accessing homelessness support services – hostels, supported housing projects, day-centres, and women’s centres –in a range of homelessness situations. This research produced four significant findings. First, home and homelessness were experienced in broader senses than previously found. As home existed in a variety of states, women experienced homelessness in a myriad of ways: homelessness was thus expanded beyond the point of entry into homelessness services. Second, homelessness was felt as a comparative lack. Rather than feeling stigmatised because of their homelessness in and of itself, homelessness affected the women in that they saw housing as a measuring stick and came out lacking. Third, homelessness presented an opportunity for re-creation of self because of the challenges it raised. While previous literature states that the current homeless self is profaned, this study found women to praise the current self as reformed and wiser despite constraining social factors. Finally, this thesis emphasises the malleability of identity categories and argues that marginalisation is not an outright barrier to reflexivity and creativity. Homeless women performed other identities beyond their homelessness, and housing/home experiences are not fixed determinants of identity and self.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2015 15:35
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2015 16:53
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11000

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