Distorting Tendencies in Understanding Homelessness in Europe

Eoin O'Sullivan, Nicholas Pleace, Volker Busch-Geertsema, Masa Filipovic Hrast

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In this paper, we summarise some of the recent developments within the social sciences in researching homelessness, in particular, the increasing use of longitudinal administrative and survey data, linking adminis- trative and survey data, and the development of RCTS in evaluating interven- tions designed to assist those experiencing homelessness. Despite these methodological advances and innovations, cross-sectional research methods continue to be widely used, despite the long-standing identification of the limitations of this methodology for understanding homelessness, and this is particularly the case in medical research. We then explore some of the recent social science research on the links between the experience of homelessness and mental ill-health and substance misuse, which broadly concludes that the majority of people experiencing homelessness do not experience mental ill- health or substance misuse problems. We then provide case studies of medical research from Ireland, Germany, the UK, and Slovenia and argue that based on these case studies, such research continues to distort our understanding of homelessness and may inadvertently lead to ineffective policy responses that fail to resolve homelessness and demonstrate the limits of looking at the experience of homelessness in specific contexts and at specific times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-135
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Journal of Homelessness
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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  • Homelessness

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