Negative cultural capital and homeless young people

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This article examines the ways in which homeless young people find a sense of self-worth and dignity within the conditions of youth homelessness. It notes that, while homeless young people seek a space where they do not feel marginalised and can attain a form of social status and cultural competence, they also engage in practices and acts of defiant independence that appear counter-productive and self-destructive. The author, utilising ethnographic research with homeless young people, including interviews, focus groups and participant observation over a 12-month period, finds that conventional concepts of cultural capital cannot explain this contradictory behaviour. He posits instead the concept of negative cultural capital as a way of explaining why homeless young people struggle for recognition in ways that collude in reinforcing their marginalisation.


Institute of Child Protection Studies

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Journal Article

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