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Title: Homeless Not Helpless: Transforming Singapore into a Homeless City through Movements and Performances
Keywords: Homeless, Mobility, Performativity, Ethnography, Urban, Singapore
Issue Date: 2018
Citation: YEO RUI XING (2018). Homeless Not Helpless: Transforming Singapore into a Homeless City through Movements and Performances. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In recent years, Singapore’s street homelessness has received growing attention from both the public and state’s media. However, very little is known about Singapore’s homeless geographies. In response, this ethnographic research utilises participant observation, go-alongs and unstructured interviews to uncover the affective lifeworlds of homeless individuals. Drawing on the dual concept of mobility and performativity, this essay seeks to understand the processes and rationales behind the construction of homeless spaces. Tactical mobility is used to access resources while strategic performances help the homeless person to appropriate and inhabit public space. This paper argues for a need to recognise homeless persons as agentic individuals who are actively involved in the transformation of urban space. In addition, this paper also proposes a new heterogeneous understanding of homelessness that divides the homeless population into two distinct categories, the destitute and the working poor. Other social markers such as gender and age are also considered. My research findings have both theoretical and practical contributions. Theoretically, I contribute to the literature on mobility and homelessness by illustrating how the destitute suffer from a self-imposed immobility as they are heavily dependent on a limited number of resource points. Moreover, I argue how mobility and access is heavily dependent on the homeless persons’ ability to perform and enact an appropriate identity which is socially acceptable. Most importantly, I introduce a sense of heterogeneity into homeless research by arguing how homeless individuals with contrasting social traits are likely to experience homelessness differently, inhabit different geographies, and possess different sociospatial possibilities. From a practical standpoint, by identifying the physical and emotional needs of homeless people, this paper hopes to improve upon existing homeless regulation policies.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses (Restricted)

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