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Experiences of homelessness: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Davies, Cathy (2011) Experiences of homelessness: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Brunel University.


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Previous research into homelessness has tended to focus on the demographics, survival needs and presumed disabilities of the homeless population, almost exclusively adopting quantitative methods. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the subjective experience of homelessness from the perspective of six participants (5 males and 1 female), who were or had been homeless within the last year. Participants were asked to give their accounts during semi-structured interviews. The subsequent transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, where 3 superordinate themes were identified; The Impact of Homelessness, Coping with Homelessness and Positive Growth. Overall, the findings illustrate that homelessness is a complex process of severe and multiple losses, impacting self-esteem, identity, relationships and psychological well-being. Participants also revealed homelessness to be an arduous journey of personal transformation, achieving positive growth through enduring hardship and overcoming adversity. The findings are compared to previous research and future directions are suggested.

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