Gaze as Embodied Ethics: Homelessness, the Other, and Humanity

  • Eric KramerEmail author
  • Elaine Hsieh


In this chapter, we directly engage the issue of ethics and a culture that justifies cruelty to its own members, the homeless, by exploring the cultural conditions that facilitate such processes. By critically examining social trends of a society, we question how a modern society can construct a marginalized population as invisible and disposable. We explore the larger socio-cultural context that contributes to the complexity of homelessness in the United States. Rather than focusing on problems of individual factors or social structures, we examine the issue of homelessness from the perspective of cultural phenomenology (i.e., the cultural conditions that facilitate such structures). In the midst of wealth, a narcissistic understanding and focus on the Self and the desire to generate a context-free explanation of the marginalized facilitate the social reality of the new homelessness. As social scientists developed various theories to justify and even legitimize the suffering of the homeless, these “theories” and “scientific explanations” cannot escape our primordial obligation as fellow human beings, the embodiment of ethics: What is at stake is our humanity.


Embodied ethics Homelessness Empathy Culture 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OklahomaNormanUSA

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