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Homeless People are Human Beings

May 3, 2019 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

There is a long, rich tradition of studying homeless people in American sociology. For sociologists, homelessness is a strategic object of academic investigation because homelessness bears on core issues in sociology (i.e., poverty, inequality, stratification, social status).

People who are visibly homelessness and living on the streets or in shelters are attractive research subjects because their lives are seemingly more open and accessible, rendering many social processes observable to the inquiring sociologist.

This talk, which is based on years of deeply embedded ethnographic fieldwork, advances the obvious yet provocative thesis that homeless people are human beings.

While studying homeless people as human beings comes with its own set of challenges, it offers an alternative to the deficit-centered approach that pervades much homelessness scholarship. A number of sociological lessons flow from the decision to see/study homeless people as human beings, which will be discussed during the talk's conclusion.

Professor of teaching Jacob Avery is with the Sociology Department at UC Irvine, where he directs the undergraduate and honors programs. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and his research/teaching interests include self and society, poverty and inequality, culture and social interaction, theory and research methods.

For further information, please contact Jeff Fuller at the School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts at 209-228-3125 or


Social Sciences and Management Building, 217

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