Gender Dimensions in Conceptualisations of Homelessness: Theoretical and operational (in)visibility

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This Integrative PhD Chapter draws together a selection of work chronicling a decade-long journey of development in thinking about how homelessness is perceived, understood and responded to. It reflects upon my engagement with research and policy, demonstrates the impact my work has had on service strategy and design and reviews my contribution to homelessness theory.
Using ten example publications, presented under four themes, the chapter explores the role of my work in highlighting the failure to properly consider gender, in both academic debate and in-service design. It demonstrates how, while homelessness services have supposedly moved towards more personalised models, which are intended to recognise and respect the strengths, choices and opinions of homeless people and deliver bespoke services to meet their needs, little account has been taken of women’s experiences, needs or opinions.
The chapter starts by introducing the different conceptualisations of homelessness and explores the debates around what is meant by homelessness. The discussion of my work begins by presenting an overview of the ten publications. An analysis of these publications is presented within four themes. Firstly, I use my work to inform a critical review of reductionist taxonomies of homelessness, that delimit homelessness causation simply to housing need and secondly by discussing how my work led me to re-examine existing thinking about the human dimensions of homelessness. The third theme I explore is inclusivity which considers the social and economic inclusion of homeless people and where my work added to my understanding of the multidimensional nature of homelessness. Finally, the theme of gender is discussed, exploring how the woeful underrepresentation of women in homelessness research has undermined our understanding of homelessness, weakened strategy and limited service effectiveness. The chapter concludes by presenting a case for reconceptualising homelessness, with the human dimensions of homelessness, which must include gender, at the core.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017

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