‘Support and Sanctions’ A critical account of the professional ‘realities’ of homelessness

Drummond, Mary Frances (2014) ‘Support and Sanctions’ A critical account of the professional ‘realities’ of homelessness. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

[thumbnail of Thesis Document]
PDF (Thesis Document)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.



Despite the plethora of literature regarding the cause and characteristics of homelessness, there has been relatively little discussion regarding causal explanations emanating from policy makers and practitioners. This research sought to address this gap by examining the dual practice of support and sanctions introduced under the Labour Administration 1997 - 2007.Conducted within and between five local authorities in the North West of England and inspired by the philosophical arguments of critical realism (Bhaskar, 1989) alongside Elder-Vass’s (2010) concept of relational emergence, a qualitative approach was adopted in which eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior managers in Supporting People and Community Safety teams. The overall aim was to examine professional beliefs and understandings of homelessness and explore its impact on practice. A primary contribution of this study to the literature on homelessness is the framework used in which emergent properties, or causal powers, which construct a particular ‘reality’ of homelessness, were identified. Utilising this framework, the analysis explored how taken for granted assumptions about the pathological and deviant behaviour of homeless people not only informed policy, but also had a significant impact on practice which, in turn, served to maintain and reinforce the exclusion of people in acute housing need. This research also extends the current literature by recommending a move away from what could be described as ‘traditional’ methods in homelessness research and towards an approach which, by utilising the dialectic arguments of critical realism, seeks to develop transformative practice. This approach would not only challenge prevailing orthodoxies of homelessness, but, following the seminal work of Gramsci (1971 cited Joseph, 2002) could also support the development of a counter hegemonic discourse.

Repository Staff Only: item control page