'Felt homelessness’: the Contribution of Qualitative Approaches to Homelessness Research
Robinson, C, 'Felt homelessness': the Contribution of Qualitative Approaches to Homelessness Research, Qualitative Housing Analysis: An International Perspective, Emerald Publishing Limited, PJ Maginn, S Thompson, and M Tonts (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 91-111. ISBN 9781846639906 (2008) [Research Book Chapter]
In the context of what may be understood as an ‘emotional retreat’ in homelessness research and service provision (Chamberlayne, 2004, p. 347), this chapter canvasses the valuable role of qualitative research in continuing to diversify understandings and evidences of homelessness made available across the field. I work to make sense of the ways, in which the emotional and physical messiness of ‘in situ’research (Malins, Fitzgerald, & Threadgold, 2006, p. 514) can give rise to new understandings of homelessness that both intervene in and compliment existing research and policy knowledges. While my key focus here will be on the difficult task of actually articulating how it is that particular forms of qualitative research knowledge may provide epistemological leverage to the field of homelessness, it should also be clear that the impetus for this chapter, and indeed for my broader research engagement in homelessness (see for example, Robinson 2002b, 2003, 2005) stems from my concern with the ways in which felt-experience is particularly backgrounded in this field. As I have discussed elsewhere, the ramifications of making relatively silent corporeal and emotional dimensions of homelessness have troublingly included the entrenchment of conceptualisations of, and responses to, homelessness that cannot account for the multidimensional ways in which trajectories of homelessness can unfold and become reinforced. In particular, my focus has been on the ways in which the lack of attention paid within social research to the bodily impacts of cumulative trauma and grief in the lives of homeless people, has in turn been mirrored in the limited framing of social policy and welfare service delivery.