Re-Conceptualizing "Contributing" Homelessness and Unpaid Labour in a Neo-Liberal Climate
Choy, Mary Rebecca
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The goal of this research was to challenge notions of “contributing” in active citizen discourse. This was done by exploring how individuals experiencing homelessness give back to their communities while surviving through social exclusion and life on the streets. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals who experienced homelessness between the ages of 40-64. This research found that respondents gave back to others through various forms of labour in ways that were mutually beneficial. Contributing to the well being of others helped respondents to cope with homelessness by gaining opportunities, resources, information, networks and developing a sense of well being, confidence or support. The findings suggest a need to re-conceptualize “contributing” in ways that recognize alternative forms of citizenship activities and participation. By doing so, all people, including people without homes, can be recognized as contributing citizens in their communities.