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Deadline: 10 May 2019

Guest editors

Laureline Coulomb, Université Bretagne Sud

Johannes Lenhard, MaxCam, University of Cambridge

Alejandro Miranda-Nieto, University of Trento

Housing Studies

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Special Issue

Home-making without a home: dwelling practices among homeless people

Homelessness is a complex phenomenon that gathers a wide variety of contrasting realities. Contemporary research has largely focused on the factors that lead people to become homeless, their struggles and the forms of social care offered to them. Despite the increasing interest in the social dynamics of homelessness, the dwelling practices that constitute the everyday life of people living without a shelter have been sparsely addressed in the scholarly literature.

This special issue seeks to address this gap. Its objective is twofold: first, it aims to contribute to the empirical knowledge base of home-making processes among homeless people through the analysis of their dwelling practices and strategies developed in their efforts to survive. Second, it seeks to contribute to current theorisations of home and homelessness, and to engage with the practical implications of these empirical and theoretical advances for the development of social policy.

We expect papers to address a wide range of contexts and experiences of homelessness, advancing a nuanced approach on the counterintuitive fact that home-making practices take place in the absence of a home. For instance, how do these practices unfold in the case of migrants, refugees and non-migrants? In what ways are these practices carried on by adults, children, young or elderly people? These questions invite us to think of dwelling processes as multi-scalar phenomena: how and to what extent are certain places considered to be home-like? In what ways do homeless people attach a sense of home to their provisional dwelling places, shelters, neighbourhoods, regions or cities? And how is the tension between staying or leaving experienced in the context of homelessness?

The notion of home-making is very often associated with dwelling in domestic environments. However, there is much more to these practices than what occurs within the confines of the dwelling place. How is a sense of home attached and reshaped while living in the streets? How do people without a conventional dwelling place find and make places to sleep and rest? How do they produce a sense of home while sleeping rough or in a shelter? What are the processes, routines, workarounds and tactics used by homeless people to make home in the streets or in places that are not intended to serve this purpose? What are the meanings associated with those strategies and how are they enabled? How is home – and the making of it – conceptualised in people’s everyday life and future planning? What is the role of social relationships in making oneself at home? How is home made in a homeless shelter as opposed to the street?

This special issue aims to connect fine-grained analyses of homeless people’s practised everyday life with housing and welfare policies. If homelessness is closely related to welfare policies, what are their consequences on how homeless people try to make themselves at home? To which extent are those home-making practices taken into account by policy makers? How are they shaped by the organisation of social care? For example, we wonder what are the impacts of current housing-first approaches on the home-making practices of its recipients. From a more individual perspective, what kind of home do people on the street hope for? How is this hope and searching for home put into practice in the short- and long-term? What role do institutional actors play in facilitating or deterring those practices?

Papers from all social science disciplines (i.e. sociology, anthropology, geography, history, public policy, political science and economics) are welcome. Both theoretically and empirically-grounded (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method) manuscripts will be considered for publication, provided that the underlying research has a potential to deliver significant progress in this research area. This special issue particularly aims at attracting papers from a wide range of geographical locations and representing the diversity of homelessness.

A list of potential topics includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • Home-making practices and processes in the street (e.g. among people sleeping rough)
  • Homeless people’s strategies to feel or make themselves at home in shelters
  • The meanings attached to home (in its various guises) by homeless people
  • The role of social relationships in homeless people’s sense of home
  • Home in homeless people’s future planning
  • The scales of home in homelessness
  • How welfare policies and social care interventions consider, represent or address dwelling and home-making processes among homeless people
  • The impact of welfare policies on everyday homeless people’s dwelling practices

Submission Guidelines

Offers of proposed papers should be submitted by 10 May 2019 to the guest editors Laureline Coulomb, Johannes Lenhard and Alejandro Miranda-Nieto. They should include the institutional affiliation and contact details of the author(s); a title and an abstract of no more than 500 words.

Authors will be notified about the acceptance or rejection of their proposal on 15 June 2019. The deadline for submission of full papers to the guest editors is 15 September 2019. The guest editors will provide comments and then revised papers will be submitted to the journal’s standard peer-review procedures.

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