Princeton University Library Catalog

The Role of Space in Homelessness: A Comparative Study of Concentration and Place on Social Networks

Winner Baran, Hannah [Browse]
Senior thesis
Frye, Margaret [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Sociology [Browse]
Class year:
Summary note:
This project is a multi-method comparative qualitative study of the role that geography plays on the interpersonal behavior and formation of social networks among homeless individuals in two locations: Skid Row, Downtown Los Angeles, California and Oahu, Hawaii. Thirty-five hours of ethnographic observation and four in-depth interviews were conducted in Los Angeles, while sixty-three hours of ethnographic observation and four in-depth interviews were conducted on the island of Oahu, all of which aimed to determine the extent that place plays on social networks. The most significant conclusions come from the comparative angle: although homelessness remains significantly concentrated within a dense urban population in the Skid Row site of Los Angeles, the social network of peers within the homeless mecca, is cast on individuals almost unwantedly; on the other hand, the dispersed population of homeless in the hinterlands of Oahu, while spatially isolated, enjoys the company of visitors from the housed community, displaying active connection to persons in the housed social network. Oahu presents a particularly unique case in that the native culture on the island is unlike that of any urban hub on the mainland, and the Los Angeles site presents a distinct case because its Skid Row is the most densely populated district of homeless in the country.