Date of Graduation

Summer 2008


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Charlene Berquist


homelessness, homeless youth, marginalization, social identity, co-cultural communication

Subject Categories



This research focuses on the social identity of homeless youth, the communication strategies these youth employ during interactions with the larger culture, and the relationship that exists between identity and communication within this population. Social identity theory and co-cultural theory provide a theoretical framework to help identify how these youths' identities are influenced by their communicative practices as well as how their identities influence their communication within and outside their social group. Using a combination of observations, participatory photography and in-depth interviews, the current study seeks to understand better what it means to be young and homeless by looking at their world through their perceptual lens. Findings indicate that their identity is comprised of a variety of facets including self worth, relationships, and hopefulness for the future. Furthermore, avoiding, censoring self, intragroup networking, using liaisons, and attacking were all found to be key communication strategies for homeless youth that were largely influenced by their identities, thereby, illustrating the relationship that exists between identity and communication.


© Lindsey Harness

Campus Only