Understanding Homelessness: From Memoir to Pathways Home (May 2014)

This essay first appeared in the May 2014 issue of Choice (volume 51 | number 9).


In recent decades, homelessness has become a subject of growing concern throughout the world, including in the United States and other highly industrialized countries. Scholarly literature on homelessness has burgeoned along with the homeless population, as scholars in disciplines across the social and health sciences—public health, social work, anthropology, sociology, urban affairs, psychology—have struggled to understand this troubling problem from myriad viewpoints, and develop strategies to deal with it. This literature includes histories of homelessness; ethnographies; critical works on the causes and possible remedies for homelessness; and memoirs. This essay identifies some of the best of those resources. …

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About the author:

Irene Glasser is an anthropologist whose teaching and research focuses on homelessness and addictions and recovery. She is an adjunct lecturer in the anthropology department at Brown University and a research associate of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown. Eric Hirsch, a professor sociology at Providence College, teaches in the areas of urban sociology, race and ethnic relations, homelessness, social movements, and the sociology of disaster. He is active in the advocacy movement to end homelessness in the state of Rhode Island.