Identity and recognition: A possible theoretical key to understanding the phenomenon of homelessness? Homelessness is one of the most extreme forms of poverty. Recent literature explains this event using an approach that combines individual characteristics and structural forces. However, in the homelessness’s study few attention has been given to human dimension and the role of crisis of identity and recognition. The need to be socially recognized is not simply a need among many others, to which we can possibly give up: it is a basic condition of our being human persons.
Becoming homeless is definitely a very traumatic event, but these persons suffer before they begin this transition and continue even after that. In both phases, homeless people might be victims of various forms of misrecognition: physical and psychological maltreatment, rights’ deprivation and social exclusion that affect the validation of their social identity. Homelessness is certainly an expression of material and economic poverty, but it might also reflect other human and social problems. The aim of this paper is to explore how identity and recognition concepts can be used as a framework to understand homelessness experience more deeply and design effective and innovative public policies.
Keywords: Poverty, homelessness, identity, recognition, public policy
Jel Code: A12, D63, I38