Search my Subject Specializations: Civil War American History: Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco Teresa Gowan Abstract When homelessness reemerged in American cities during the s at levels not seen since the Great Depression, it initially provoked shock and outrage.
Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders
More When homelessness reemerged in American cities during the s at levels not seen since the Great Depression, it initially provoked shock and outrage. Bibliographic Information Print publication date: Authors Affiliations are at time of print publication. Teresa Gowan, author More Less.
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- Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco by Teresa Gowan.
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Print Save Cite Email Share. Within a few years, however, what had been perceived as a national crisis came to be seen as a nuisance, with early sympathies for the plight of the homeless giving way to compassion fatigue and then condemnation. Debates around the problem of homelessness--often set in terms of sin, sickness, and the failure of the social system--have come to profoundly shape how homeless people survive and make sense of their plights.
In Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders , Teresa Gowan vividly depicts the lives of homeless men in San Francisco and analyzes the influence of the homelessness industry on the streets, in the shelters, and on public policy. Moreover, the growth of the emergency shelter system movement has not, contrary to expectations, given rise to affordable housing. This claim applies equally well to the situation in Canada. It is now well known that the homeless are a heterogeneous population, and the homeless in San Francisco are no exception.
The street people that Gowan spent a considerable amount of time with were recyclers. Perhaps the most interesting and perceptive parts of the book focus on men who walk the streets of San Francisco daily with shopping carts in tow, collecting various recyclable materials which are then taken to depots in exchange for small amounts of cash. After all, the recyclers came to define their lives in terms of the work they did.
Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco
Being engaged in physically demanding work which resulted in modest financial rewards led to the creation of occupational identity, as opposed to a homeless identity. At the same time, however, they also felt that there were zero credible options available to them in order to get off the streets.
Such findings will be of interest to readers familiar with the literature on class consciousness. In other sections of the book the author does a fine job linking together the lived experiences of homeless men in San Francisco with a number of important issues that have been associated with urban poverty and homelessness, including policing, incarceration, deindustrialization, neoliberalism, medicalization, and urban renewal.
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