“This Is Where You Are Supposed to Be”: How Homeless Individuals Cope with Stigma

This article is based on 20 ethnographic interviews, two focus groups, and observation conducted with homeless individuals in a southeastern U.S. city between 2007 and 2009. It examines individuals' tactics used to manage the stigma that is usually linked with homelessness. Men and women regularly meet with disapproving labels regarding living on the streets or in shelters when they interact with others. The analysis of their stories highlights the ways in which homeless individuals try to save their character. Throughout this article we make the case that homeless individuals handle spoiled identities in comparable and unique ways judged against how other marginalized groups manage stigmatization. The conclusion discusses larger sociological implications of this research in understanding stigmatization.

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Sociological Spectrum: Mid-South Sociological Association