The Structuring of Invisibility Among the Hidden Homeless: The Politics of Space, Stigma, and Identity Construction

Lynn M. Harter
Charlene Berquist, Missouri State University
B. Scott Titsworth
David Novak
Tod Brokaw

Abstract

This ethnographic portrayal relies on participant observations at two supplemental support programs for youth without homes, narratives collected through in-depth interviews with educators and case managers, and focus group interviews with youth participants to explore the discursive (re)production of invisibility among youth without homes. Structuration theory is used to frame macro and micro forces coalescing to enable and constrain processes of invisibility among the hidden homeless. Analysis reveals how invisibility shapes (and is shaped by) processes of stigmatization, “street smarts” as enacted by youth, and “Mayberry” and “not in my backyard” community discourses, and how the disappearance of youth without homes simultaneously serves and undermines various stakeholders.