9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN22 Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Social Policy Building I, 2E4

Modernity Risk Dynamics & Social Inequalities: A Case-study on Homelessness in Paris, Lisbon and London

The paper I propose to present at the "9th ESA Conference
European Society or European Societies" outcomes from a cross-national comparative (FR, PT, UK) research on homelessness that takes the concept of risk as fundamental analytical string. Risk is a cultural and social construct that to be analyzed leads necessarily to compare the perceptions of different social actors. In this case the institutional level and the homeless themselves.
As the institutional plan, responsible for the categorization and regulation of the phenomenon, are considered documental sources (risk theories, empirical researches and international studies) and the social workers (from volunteers to managers). In what regards the homeless, the analysis focus on their life trajectories and symbolic perceptions for several domains, including survival strategies and the evaluation of the social provision services.
The empirical research is based on semi-directive interviews conducted in Paris, Lisbon and London (2005-2006), both to social workers and homeless.
The main findings allow enhancing that the existing divergences on risk discourses assume relevant implications regarding the conceptualisation of preventive measures, social control and reinsertion plans. The life-trajectories, taking homelessness as a process, are of extreme importance to understand the role of social capital for coping with crisis susceptibilities. It is verified that cross-checking the perceptions of social workers and homeless constitutes a crucial tool for finding participative proposals for the development of the social support practices.