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Hobos, Hustlers, and BackslidersHomeless in San Francisco$
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Teresa Gowan

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780816648696

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816648696.001.0001

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Urban Ethnography beyond the Culture Wars

Urban Ethnography beyond the Culture Wars

(p.3) One Urban Ethnography beyond the Culture Wars
Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders

Teresa Gowan

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter presents an ethnographic discourse analysis of several different homeless subcultures, with particular emphasis on homeless men in San Francisco, California. It argues that discourse analysis opens a path around social science’s interminable conflict between the concept of a self-reproducing culture of poverty and the counterargument that deviant practices among the poor represent common-sense adaptations to difficult circumstances. Instead of asking whether the culture of the stigmatized poor might be immoral or pathological, discourse analysis suggests the more holistic project of tracing the intimate, if sometimes reactive, relationship between dominant and more marginal cultural formations. Rather than building (or refuting) an anatomy of deviance, this chapter explores how competing discourses on poverty and homelessness affect poor people themselves.

Keywords:   ethnography, discourse analysis, homeless subculture, homeless men, San Francisco, social science, poverty, poor, deviance, homelessness

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