Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 111-126

First online:

Imaging Homelessness and Homeless People: Visions and Strategies Within the Movement(s)

  • Rob RosenthalAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Wesleyan University

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The “deserving versus undeserving” distinctions typically applied to poor people are examined as applied to homeless people. When these labels are applied by others, three categories—Lackers, Slackers, and Unwilling Victims—appear rather than a binary division. Further, the role these images play within antihomelessness movements is examined. Images shape strategies, and strategies shape images, both consciously and unconsciously. Three “clusters” of image and strategy are examined, and the implications for the antihomelessness movement discussed.

homelessness labeling social movements deserving versus undeserving