Student Project &
Research Symposium

Oral
Presentation

Student Project &
Research Symposium

Poster
Presentation

Student Project &
Research Symposium

Performance

Student Project &
Research Symposium

Exhibition

College Center Ballroom
Why is an ethnographic perspective important to combatting homelessness?
Julia Hernandez
Date:
April 22nd, 2022
Division:
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Department:
Anthropology
Mentor:
Ulrike Green
Mentor's e-mail:
ugreen@occ.cccd.edu
Author's e-mail:
jhernandez640@student.cccd.edu
Presentation Slides
Abstract:

Many communities in the US struggle to provide successful, permanent solutions to help unhomed people. What are the underlying reasons for this lack of success and how can the methods of studying this crisis be improved? I suggest that one important reason lies in the limitations of traditional research methods used to understand unhomed populations. This can be remedied by using ethnographic field methods to supplement traditional forms of studying homelessness. To explore this topic, I reviewed official statistical data sampling on homelessness in the US and three ethnographies that investigated unhoused communities. I also examined international studies where ethnographic research provided the basis for the design and implementation of strategies to address the unhomed crisis. I found that the most utilized research methods like questionnaires, surveys, interviews, and documentaries, are not consistently used in all unhoused populations or continuous over time. Therefore, they often overlook various subgroups, which causes unintentional sampling error data. Furthermore, these methods cannot fully explore the varying degrees of homelessness. Ethnographic field methods, like participant observation, allow the researcher to fully immerse themselves into a subgroup of a population and form intimate relationships with those being observed. Comparing the data from ethnographic studies to traditional studies revealed that the personal connections between the observer and the participant in ethnographic studies result in more nuanced data. Combining such nuanced insights with the pre-existing data allows for the creation of more targeted, community-based solutions across the spectrum of unhoused populations.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.