chapter  5
14 Pages

Inside/Outside: The Dialectics of Homelessness

WithJennifer R. Wolch

This chapter explores the consequences of ignoring the sober warning. It aims to articulate the dimensions of the conflict between homed and homeless people. Postmodern politics in part explains the behavior of insiders toward outsiders. Postmodern urbanism clearly constrains, but does not eliminate, our ability to solve the problem of homelessness. The conflict between insiders and outsiders over urban space and city resources is often blamed on both parties: the homeless smell bad, are aggressive, are shiftless and lazy; homed neighbors are snobby, exclusionary, and treat the homeless unfairly. The inside/outside conflict is not rooted in individual behavior or local policy, but rather in the complex economic restructuring and deepening social cleavages of the 1980s. In any explanation of social polarization, demography matters too. Along with socio-economic polarization produced by global forces has come a proliferation of architectural styles and community designs which supposedly celebrate diversity but obscure deep-seated tensions, conflicts, and struggles.