There's No Place like Home: Anthropological Perspectives on Housing and Homelessness in the United States

By Anna Lou Dehavenon | Go to book overview

8
Suburban Homelessness and Social Space: Strategies of Authority and Local Resistance in Orange County, California

Talmadge Wright and Anita Vermund

Wright and Vermund capture the perspective of suburban homeless park dwellers in their analysis of resistance to the authoritative strategies of the government bureaucracy in Orange County, California. From the authors' research, park dwellers struggle with local police and the degradations of applying for welfare, in an attempt to maintain their dignity in a desperate situation. In opposition to the humiliation experienced at the hands of police and punitive eligibility technicians, the park dwellers create extensive social networks and redistribution systems with rigorous rules of fairness. The park dwellers deploy tactics to evade local rules which are often used to force them from the park they occupy. The authors explore fully the deep divisions and confrontations that ensue and recommend that the federal government renew its commitment to the provision of low-cost housing, raising the minimum wage, and creating a national health care system.

"Everyday life invents itself by poaching in countless ways on the property of others."

Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life.

"To live on the streets is to be a criminal!"

Lester, Garden Grove Park, Garden Grove, California.


INTRODUCTION

Lester, a fifty-four-year-old white male, lives in a small suburban park, Garden Grove Park, in Orange County, California. 1 His forced street living is accompanied by degradation at the hands of local authorities, who perceive him as "out of place" and therefore "out of control." He is a subject to be surveyed and monitored. In living on the streets, he is taking the risk of "poaching" on the property of others in ways that allow him to construct an everyday life at odds with authoritative defini

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