DOI: 10.1002/symb.687 ISSN: 0195-6086

A Note on Homelessness and the Moral Economy: How Thompson's Moral Economy Presents in Modern Day Homelessness

Sarah Werman
  • General Social Sciences
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Social Psychology
  • General Nursing

In this research note, I propose a theoretical framework that centers class struggle in order to better understand the micro‐level interactions that take place within homeless communities and the systems that structure them. I suggest that researchers can gain clearer insights into marginalized communities by taking a radical interactionist approach, as described by Athens. To start, I propose revisiting classic theories emphasizing the impact of power and dominance in the development of social systems as ways to understand interpersonal social interactions. Specifically, in this note I propose revisiting E.P. Thompson's original theory of the moral economy as an analytical basis and grounding point in the effort to explore homelessness and the communities it creates. Thompson's moral economy suggests that in communities facing oppression and class struggle, an economic and social system develops in which the central tenant is fairness and morality. By revisiting this theory, I suggest that researchers may better understand the ways in which homeless communities structure themselves, not only in relation to one another, but also in relation to the broader social world around them.

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