Making home or making do: a critical look at homemaking without a home

Nicholas Pleace, Eoin O'Sullivan, Guy Johnson

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This paper critically examines the concept of alternative forms of ‘homemaking’ among people without a settled home. The introductory section establishes the framework for the paper, providing an overview of homelessness and the homemaking literature. Strengths in the homemaking approach are identified, which reconceptualises homelessness as a human-centered phenomenon that can be understood as ‘resistance’ to societies that block accesses to mainstream housing for people who are (also) socially and economically marginalised. Homemaking moves beyond mainstream academic analyses which explore homelessness in terms of ‘sin’ (addiction and criminality), ‘sickness’ (poor health, especially poor mental health) and ‘systems’ (housing market failure and inadequate social protection and public health systems). The paper argues that, while important in refreshing our thinking about homelessness by offering a new, radical epistemology of housing, homemaking is limited by not contextualising the dwelling practices it seeks to explain, particularly in respect of how it defines ‘homelessness’ and also risks misinterpreting transitory behavioural adaptations as something deeper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-331
JournalHousing Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2021 The Author(s).


  • Homelessness

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