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Agency and Citizenship in the Structuration of Homelessness in Brighton

By M.G. Lonterman


"Neoliberal state withdrawal from the provision of social services has shifted the responsibility for the support of homeless people to voluntary and charity organizations. This thesis examines how voluntary and charity organizations affect the agency of homeless people in Brighton. The writing of this thesis was preceded by a three and a half months long fieldwork in Brighton, using the techniques of participant observation. Homelessness in Brighton is structured through the interplay of the agency of homeless people, neoliberal policies and ideals of citizenship, and the endeavours of well-meaning voluntary and charity organizations. Throughout this thesis, it will become clear how the neoliberal ideal of citizenship is applicable to homeless people in Brighton and how this affects their agency. It is hard for homeless people in Brighton to obtain citizenship rights and to comply with citizenship responsibilities, which affects their ability to be constitutive agents. They are only eligible for priority access to supported housing if they are ill or a threat to themselves or society. As a result, their agency, as well as the neoliberal promise of free, self-sustaining citizenship seems to be reduced to the choice whether or not to perform their vulnerability. However, in accordance with various charity and voluntary organizations, homeless people are involved in the structuration of homelessness in Brighton, which both restrains and facilitates action. By focusing on concrete manifestations of neoliberalism in the field of homelessness in Brighton, this thesis is an example of how anthropologists can study globalist projects such as neoliberalism.

Topics: Homelessness; Structuration; Agency; Citizenship; Neoliberalism
Year: 2016
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/339247
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