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Archiv čísel » 2020/1 - ERIS Journal - Winter 2020 - Social Work and Empowering Communities »

“Help Me Do It by Myself ” – About the Empowered Homeless from the Socially Engaged Perspective

Małgorzata Kostrzyńska

Medailon autora:

Małgorzata Kostrzyńska, a social pedagogue, an assistant reader at the Social Pedagogy Department of the University of Łódź. Her academic interests focus on the problem of homelessness,
streetworking, social inclusion and exclusion, but also on application of art therapy techniques in the process of social inclusion. She carried out research which involved homeless men: the first concerned obstacles on the way to social inclusion of the homeless who stayed outside the social assistance system (2006–2008), the second – the process of associating of a group of inhabitants of a hostel for homeless people run by the association, which they themselves founded (2010–2013). A coordinator of the project titled “Homeful-Homeless” Box2 (between 2015–2018).


OBJECTIVES: My aim was to present the homeless as an empowered group – as resourceful, surviving, contrary to the stereotype, in a way indicating a high degree of social knowledge. THEORETICAL BASE: This article is a reflection on participatory research that I conducted from 2005 to 2013, among the homeless living on the streets, outside the social welfare system and among homeless people staying in hostels and joining homeless associations there. I adopted the perspective of symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969). Sensitizing concepts in my study were the concepts of empowerment and participation. METHODS: I adopted a qualitative approach to collecting data. I used the grounded theory, including its constructivist perspective (Charmaz, 2009). I had the opportunity to get to know the perspective of the Participants. Social engagement on my part as the researcher-participant revealed areas of the Participants’ empowerment. OUTCOMES: Interactional work undertaken by them for their survival, is divided into: work on securing their continued existence and work on developing leisure-time activities. I show some paradoxes of help provided to the homeless as tactics instilling helplessness. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Empowerment should focus on the awareness of both the homeless and society, becoming the purpose and effect of work for them.

Klíčová slova:

empowerment, homelessness, social work, interactive work, symbolic interactionism

s. 22 - 32

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