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Palgrave Macmillan

Homeless Lives in American Cities

Interrogating Myth and Locating Community

ISBN 9781137374226
Publication Date August 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Homeless Lives in American Cities: Interrogating Myth and Locating Community explores how the American discourse on homelessness arose from Victorian social and political anxieties about the impacts of immigration and urbanization on the middle class family. These anxieties were negotiated by social activists and service providers, as well as those commenting on their work - journalists, sociologists, and finally policymakers. It examines the stories told by all such invested parties, paying careful attention to the ways in which they described and diagnosed social problems before they developed institutions to redress them. In doing so, Homeless Lives explains how their descriptive modes of portraying urban life shaped subsequent social science and policy. It analyzes how religious language and images codified representations of urban problems, and through this process, explores how contemporary urban sociology, social work, and policy emerge from Victorian cultural attitudes about gender, class, the family, the city, and social life.

Philip Webb is Executive Director of Making it Possible to End Homelessness, USA.

1. The Fin-de-Siècle City
2. Anti-Semitic Roots of Homelessness
3. Discourse and Subjectivation in American Homelessness
4. The Limits of Hobosociality for Social Mooring
5. Homelessness as Disaffiliation
6. Fracturing Consensus: Women and Minorities
7. The Homeless Family and the Return of Myth
8. The Homeless and the Disneyfication of the City
9. A Decoupled Homelessness: Changing Signification


"Philip Webb's work on homelessness is innovative and original, bringing attention to a subject that was once popular (from roughly the late 1980s—the late 1990s) and has now faded into obscurity in important respects. Webb seeks not merely to update the older literature but to critically analyze it in terms of its narrow definitions and foci." - Kathleen Arnold, Professor of Political science, DePaul University, USA
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