The images in our heads : fundraising literature and drawing what homelessness looks like

DEAN, Jonathan (2014). The images in our heads : fundraising literature and drawing what homelessness looks like. In: Changing society : conference programme and abstarct book. British Sociological Association.

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This paper presents original qualitative research on how students visualise the issue of homelessness. It explores how utilising creative visual methodologies can identify how and why homeless people are subject to stereotyping and othering. Over a series of focus groups, with more than 40 participants, undergraduate students have been asked to ‘draw what homelessness looks like’ and then to critically reflect on these drawings. The images students draw overwhelmingly show bearded men, begging on the streets, with drink and drug issues. These images represent only a very small element of homelessness as a social problem, when most homeless people have shelter, but not permanent residence. Many people suffering from homelessness are women or children, and are often in employment, education, or training, none of which are represented in these drawings, which focus solely on poverty stricken street rooflessness. In their reflection on their drawings, students feel that these images represent their experiences of homelessness, as something that ‘happens to other people’, and are partially the result of media depictions of homelessness. However, these stereotypical images also form the basis of many fundraising campaigns used by homelessness charities, charities which see it as a risk to fundraising to move away from classic images of roofless men. As such this paper will focus on how students feel these images have been communicated to them, why stereotyping and othering take place, and what changes can be made to charity communications in order to break down cultural barriers between potential donors and service users.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Paper presented at the BSA Annual Conference 2014 University of Leeds Wednesday 23-Friday 25 April 2014
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group
Depositing User: Hilary Ridgway
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2015 09:03
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 09:15

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