CRESR Seminar: Images of homelessness – how representations of need frame the issue

Start date: 
Wed, 12/03/2014
Closing date: 
Wed, 12/03/2014
Stoddart 7506
Event contact: 
Ian Wilson & Will Eadson

Jon Dean - Sheffield Hallam Univerisity


This presentation provides findings from two qualitative research projects exploring the role of images in understanding homelessness. Previous sociological explorations of the issue have concentrated on utilizing the visual as a way of communicating the realities of the lived experience of being homeless, but these two projects indicate a lack of nuanced understanding in popular discourses of the complexity involved with this social problem. The first examines the opinion of homeless people on their representation in charitable fundrasing materials, and the second uses creative methods to explore students' primary knowledge about homelessness. Both projects indicate the dominance of simple narratives surrounding the homeless, including the over-prominence of 'rooflessness', which have been reinforced rather than challenged by the charity sector. However, the potential for qualitative methods to act as a critical pedagogic tool are highlighted, and an argument is made for including service users in the design of charitable fundraising campaigns.


Jon Dean is a lecturer in politics and sociology in the Faculty of Development and Society at Sheffield Hallam University. His research focuses on social class and youth volunteering, social theory, innovative research methods, and homelessness.

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