Long, Fiona

Start date:
October 2019
Research Topic:
Barriers to exiting homelessness
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Jennifer Hoolachan and Dr Robin Smith
Supervising school:
Ysgol y Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This ethnographic study aims to understand why some people are unable to exit homelessness once they enter temporary forms of accommodation despite having access to support. The existing literature on exiting homelessness is sparse and has the tendency to examine macro-level barriers (e.g. poverty) and micro-level barriers (e.g. poor mental health) in isolation (Somerville, 2013). In search of a more holistic understanding of these barriers, this study will uniquely focus on the interaction order of the hostel (Goffman, 1983); shifting attention from structure and agency to the hostel setting itself and the interactions which take place within. By focusing on interactions in situ, this study will be able to pick up on barriers which are mundane, bureaucratic, relational, spatial, temporal, and often imperceptible to other studies.

A participant observation will initially take place within a large, male-only homelessness hostel and will be used to explore: the everyday experiences of its vulnerably accommodated residents; the daily challenges faced by these individuals; and how barriers to exiting homelessness are constructed, maintained, perceived, and negotiated. The use of additional research methods will develop naturally over time and will be guided by my findings.