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Title: Narratives of 'single homeless people' : reformulating and reinterpreting the homelessness experience
Author: Cuncev, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 5169
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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This PhD study focuses on understanding formerly homeless people’s attitudes to self, their home and their status in the housing system. The study was based on the analysis of twenty-eight narrative interviews with people who had experienced homelessness and who were, at the time of the interview, living in supported housing in a city in the South East of England. The decade 2000-2010, which provides the policy context for the research, was seen as a period of positive developments in homelessness research. In the current study and by using a combined narrative and thematic research approach, I place the single homeless people’s conceptualisations of identity into the Third Space (Shilling 1999, Burkitt 2008) presentation of flexible individualities, but which, despite the challenges and pressures experienced, maintain a strong sense of the core of the self that makes them unique. My approach to the homeless people’s identity formation accepts the possibility of a decentralisation of identities in contemporary societies; however, I maintain that there are parts of own identity which persist in individuals’ definitions of self and ultimately help ground the homeless individual. I acquiesce that identities can go through changes, imposed by personal circumstances and social context, and that these changes can lead to variations in the elements which retain value for the individual. However, despite all these changes, the homeless interviewees continued to refer to their self as easily recognised – retaining the same main qualities which belonged to the self before the homelessness experience. It was this strength of self that the interviewees ultimately wanted to transmit to the interviewer and it is this strength of self which places their conceptualisations of identity in the ‘Third Space’ approach. The study was placed at a crossroads for homelessness policies which had passed through a series of changes through two different governments: New Labour and the Coalition Government. As well as highlighting areas that required improvement, the study showed that a holistic perspective towards the homeless person, taking into account their experiences before, after and during the homelessness event and acknowledging the value of training and unpaid employment, could lead to policy and practice which is closer to individuals’ perceived identities and routes out of homelessness.
Supervisor: Earthy, Sarah ; Meadows, R. A. ; Cronin, Ann Sponsor: ESRC ; Brighton YMCA
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available