Invisible Victims: Homelessness and the Growing Security Gap

Laura Huey’s Invisible Victims is an important inquiry into the “security gap” faced by homeless people. Indeed, among the range of disadvantages that accompany homelessness, increased levels of criminal victimization ranks among the most significant. While yearly data collection on the homeless population of most cities provides clear evidence of their disproportionate crime burden, the ethnographic approach on which Invisible Victims is based offers an important complement and needed texture to the issue.

One of the most interesting frameworks for Huey’s book concerns the intersection of homelessness and citizenship. The explorations of concepts of citizenship found in the opening pages promise an intriguing juxtaposition with the realities of homelessness. From there, the book follows a logical progression from the elaboration of data on the criminal victimization of those who are homeless, to the complex and strained relationship between the homeless and the police. The middle chapters examine a variety of alternative means by which those who are homeless attempt to protect themselves from crime, while the final two chapters return to the notion of citizenship and strategies for remediating the insecurity of homeless citizens.

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Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews