Swept Up Lives: Re-envisioning the Homeless City / Edition 1

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Swept Up Lives? challenges conventional accounts of urban homelessness. Moving beyond more familiar narratives concerning the recent 'purification' of public space and attempts to sweep homeless people from the streets, it focuses instead upon the many and complex attempts to care for homeless people in the contemporary city. Drawing upon in-depth ethnographic research with organizations providing homeless night shelters, hostels, day centres and soup runs - and with the users of these services - the authors emphasize the relationships of care embodied and performed within homeless service spaces. Positioning these attempts to care for homeless people within a broader rapprochement between secular and faith-based ethical motivations, it draws attention to the emergence of a postsecular ethics that runs counter to, and sometimes actively resists, the vicissitudes of neoliberal welfare restructuring and a 'revanchist' (or vengeful) urban politics. The book thus argues for a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which homelessness is governed, paving the way for a characterization of homelessness that pays greater attention to the agency of homeless people themselves and the complexity of homeless geographies - geographies within which homeless people experience a range of relationships that include compassion and care as well as regulation, containment and control.

Swept Up Lives? Re-envisioning the Homeless City offers innovative research and a visionary new approach to shape our understanding of the complexities of urban homelessness.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Overall, this book makes a substantial contribution to research on urban homelessness. It provides a glimpse into a network of emotions relationships, and service provision that is underacknowledged in urban geography.”  (The Canadian Geographer, 4 September 2014)

"Swept up Lives? lives up toexpectations and delivers a well argued and insightful analysis that progresses established paradigmatic ways of understanding homelessness in the Western world." (UGRG Book Review Series, 19 December 2011)

"Swept Up Lives? should be read not just by academics, but by homeless NGOs and by politicians and policy-makers. It provides a powerful statement of the humanity of homeless persons, and of the continued importance of an ethos of care and compassion in service provision to them." (Journal Housing & the Built Environment, 2011)

"A compelling narrative, moving from 'the street' to structure and back again, to argue that more attention needs to be paid to the neoliberalist welfare state. The authors highlight examples of hope and caring, providing a critical but optimistic view of what can be done by individuals, institutions, and governing bodies. A must read for researchers and students interested in understanding not only homelessness, but also the complexities of governance.’
—Lois M. Takahashi, University of California, Los Angeles

‘Challenging theories of urban revanchism that deny homeless people agency and neglect the complexities of today’s welfare state, Swept Up Lives provides a sharp conceptual corrective and rich portrayal of geographies of homelessness in Britain. Detailed ethnographies and institutional analysis offer a window on homeless subjectivities and voluntary organizations as spaces of caring and active citizenship. I highly recommend this book.’
—Jennifer Wolch, University of California, Berkeley

‘A well crafted, insightful and timely book that overturns existing orthodoxies, exploring the experience of homelessness in the UK and providing a thought-provoking portrayal of the human face of homelessness.’
—Christine Milligan, Lancaster University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405153867
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Series: RGS-IBG Book Series, #36
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Cloke is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Exeter. His research interests are in social and cultural geographies of ethics, rurality, and nature, and he has published widely on issues relating to poverty, homelessness, and social marginalisation.

Jon May is Professor of Geography at Queen Mary University of London. He has published extensively on the geographies of homelessness and is the co-author or co-editor of five books including, most recently, Global Cities at Work: New Migrant Divisions of Labour (2009).

Sarah Johnsen is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York. She has published widely in the field of homelessness and social policy.

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Table of Contents

Figures and Tables vi

Series Editors' Preface vii

Acknowledgements viii

Abbreviations x

1 Introduction: Re-envisioning the Homeless City 1

2 From Neoliberalization to Postsecularism 22

3 Tactics and Performativities in the Homeless City 61

4 'He's Not Homeless, He Shouldn't Have Any Food': Outdoor Relief in a Postsecular Age 92

5 'It's Like You Can Almost Be Normal Again': Refuge and Resource in Britain's Day Centres 117

6 'It's Been a Tough Night, Huh?' Hopelessness (and Hope) in Britain's Homeless Hostels 147

7 Big City Blues: Uneven Geographies of Provision in the Homeless City 181

8 On the Margins of the Homeless City: Caring for Homeless People in Rural Areas 211

9 Conclusions 241

References 255

Index 274

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