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Title: Vagrancy, alcoholism and society : A study of homeless alcoholics and their culture
Author: Archard, Peter A.
ISNI:       0000 0000 8304 106X
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 1976
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This thesis focuses on an analysis of the social meaning that skid row has for-homeless alcoholics and social control agents. From a sociological perspective the study of skid row in Britain as a specifically social phenomenon has for the most part remained unexplored. Most accounts of contemporary vagrancy and its attendant problems have been handled either in a journalistic fashion, or from the standpoint of professionals concerned with the amelioration of the problem or the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals living on the row. The way in which society reacts to, and seeks to control, the skid row problem has not been systematically investigated. This work seeks to redress the imbalance by paying equal attention to both deviancy and social control aspects of the phenomenon. Skid row is shown to be made up of a particular set of institutions manned or used by persons who bring to them particular beliefs and styles of action. In this study an attempt is made to go beyond traditional approaches to understanding one section of the overall skid row population, namely the skid row alcoholic. The reader will soon appreciate that any notion of the derelict alcoholic as someone exclusively suffering from some kind of individual or. social pathology is absent from these pages. The spot-light has been taken off the alcoholic as if he stood in isolation from society's endeavours to bring him into line. Instead, attention is focused on the social relationships that have unfolded amongst alcoholics, and between alcoholics and deviancy workers concerned with punishing, treating or rehabilitating them. Firstly, then, the analysis extends beyond any one single typical skid row institution, such as a common lodging house, government reception centre, prison or rehabilitation hostel. The homeless derelict inebriate leads a nomadic life within our urban centres; he is continuously on the (ix) move, stopping temporarily in institutions on a closed circuit which he rarely moves out of. His definition of these institutions and life in them informs our understanding of how he confronts his homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and alcohol addiction. Secondly, insofar as society's response to vagrancy and alcoholism is examined, three levels of that response are spelled out: the interpersonal, in which professionals comment on their daily encounters and'work with homeless alcoholics; the institutional, in which the basic ideological and objectives of skid row establishments are articulated; and the political, in which contemporary social policy is analysed. In contrast to the dominant positivist or structural functional interpretation of deviant phenomena - perspectives in which the deviant is understood in terms of psychological or environmental factors inevitably pushing him into aberrant and asocial behaviour - the thesis attempts to utilise a sociological perspective, namely symbolic interactionism, with the object of demonstrating the essentially social and purposive character of both the deviant and correctional enterprise. Participant observation was the research technique employed to gather empirical data throughout the study. The concepts of social control, subculture, and deviant identity are employed as a framework within which to locate the empircal findings and analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available