Skip to main content

Homeless violence and the informal rules of street life

Abstract

Successful adaptation to street life requires that risk of violence, an often present aspect of this lifestyle, be reduced to as low a level as possible. This means knowing the informal rules which permit avoiding the pitfalls of street life. It is argued in this paper that safety and security are a function of interactions occurring within a specific place, with particular associates, and involving safe and unsafe behavior. Carelessness with respect to any of these factors can result in victimization. These issues are discussed using survey and ethnographic data collected in Chattanooga.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Anderson, N. (1923).The hobo. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson, R., & Hutchinson, B. (1993). Save a soul or save a body: Dilemmas in serving the urban homeless.New England Journal of Human Services, 11(2), 23–28.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bahr, H. (1973).Skid row: An introduction to disaffiliation. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cohen, C., Teresi, J., Holmes, D., & Roth, E. (1988). Survival strategies of older homeless men.The Gerontologist, 28 58–65.

    Google Scholar 

  5. D'Ercole, A., & Struening, E. (1990). Victimization among homeless women: Implications for service delivery.Journal of Community Psychology, 18 141–152.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Desjarlais, R. (1994). Struggling along: The possibilities for experience among the homeless mentally ill.American Anthropologist, 96(4), 886–901.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Fischer, P. (1988). Criminal behavior among the homeless: A study of arrests in Baltimore.Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 39(1), 46–51.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Hartman, A. (1989). Homelessness: Public issue and private trouble.Social Work, 34(6), 483–484.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Momeni, J. (1990).Homelessness in the United States. New York: Prager.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Padgett, D., & Struening, E. (1992). Victimization and traumatic injuries among the homeless: Associations with alcohol, drug, and mental problems.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 62(4), 525–534.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Roth, J., & Moore, M. (1995).Reducing violent crimes and intentional injuries. Research in action (pp. 1–23). Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice (NCJ 156089).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Snow, D., & Anderson, L. (1987). Identity work among the homeless: The verbal construction and avowal of personal identities.American Journal of Sociology, 92(6), 1336–1371.

    Google Scholar 

  13. U.S. Department of Labor (1993).Employment and training for America's homeless: Report on the job training for homeless demonstration program. Washington, D.C.: Employment and Training Administration.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Vance, D. (1995). A portrait of older homeless men: Identifying hopelessness and adaptation.Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 4(1), 57–71.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Wallace, S. (1965).Skid row as a way of life. New York: Harper and Row.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ralph Anderson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Anderson, R. Homeless violence and the informal rules of street life. J Soc Distress Homeless 5, 369–380 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02092914

Download citation

Key words

  • violence
  • homeless lifestyle
  • adaptation