Why did the rate of homelessness remain at significant levels while the US ecomy was supposedly booming and hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in the homeless sheltering industry? Drawing upon five years of ethgraphic fieldwork in a homeless shelter in Northampton, Massachusetts, Lyon-Callo argues that homelessness must be understood within the context of increasing neoliberal policies, practices, and discourses. As advocates, activists, policy makers, and homeless people focused attention on market-based and individualized practices of reform and governance, collective efforts that challenged an ecomy dependent on low wage jobs, declining housing affordability, and the dismantling of the social safety net were marginalized and igred. Homelessness continued, despite, and partly due to, the limitations of the neoliberal approach. Combining the rich detail of an ethgraphic study with the systemic examination of political ecomic studies, this book offers a view of homelessness and inequality that is rarely explored elsewhere. Chapters include discussion of the medicalization of homelessness, the difficulty of finding paid employment given broader political ecomic conditions, how shelter staff are trained to manage homeless people, how statistics are used to produce ideas of homeless people as deviants, and how funding concerns affect possibilities for resistance. Key to the study is an activist approach that raises the possibilities and problems associated with a publicly engaged anthropology.
Vincent Lyon-Callo is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Western Michigan University. He also worked in homeless shelters in Connecticut and Massachusetts throughout most of the 1990s. His work on poverty, neoliberal policies, and the possibilities of an activist ethnography has been published in a wide range of academic journals and volumes.
University of Toronto Press
Date of Publication
Sociology & Anthropology: Professional
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