Homelessness is a common feature in most developed countries. This is especially so in the big cities like New York. This paper will view homelessness in the light of it being transgressive. This will be accomplished through the analysis of four questions which touch on the following: transgressive performance in cities such as New York whereby the paper narrows down to focus on homeliness, the reasons given for considering homelessness as transgressive, and lastly the process through which the transgressive such as homelessness become normative. By answering all these questions, the author will fully discussed homelessness in the light of transgressive.
In the words of McLaren and Patin (1997) transgressive is the action or a set of actions which tend to display denaturization. It is the display of a great deviation from the norm. According to McLaren and Patin (1997) these actions show great variations from, “male/female, active/passive, positive/negative axis” (McLaren & Patin, 1997, p. 135). Arguing from this basis it can be said that the state of homelessness can be viewed as transgressive. This is so because those people who are in such a status prefer the status. In most cases they are not in hurry to get out of the homelessness status. This paper focuses on the city of New York with respect to how the homelessness cases are handled.
Johnston (2000) tries to define what homeless is. He claims that there are definitional problems which result in difficulties in the achievement of accurate counts of homeless population. He gives a short overview of the history of the homeless people and simply winds up by grouping the homeless as those, “deinstitutionalized mentally disabled, those who have never been institutionalized, substance abusers, women and children (the former often victims of domestic abuse), racial and ethnic minorities runaway and ‘throwaway’ youth and war veterans” (Johnston, 2000, p. 135). It should be noted that this group might include even those who are employed but do not earn enough to rent houses.
Hopper (2003) gives a very comprehensive review of the state of homelessness in the city of New York. In a very clear manner he associates homelessness with transgressive, “when traditional stubbornly resist change while all round evidence mounts that change is needed, an anthropologist’s curiosity is piqued, especially one working in the home front” (Hopper, 2003. P. 25). The author moves on to give a clear picture of what kind of tradition he is talking about. He flies back to the early industrialization to show the beginning of homelessness, “homeless men did the dirty work of the early industrialization” (Hopper, 2003, p. 25). As per this time the contribution of these men could not be taken for granted: however, when seasonal demand fell off what happened?
When the seasonal demand was low a not so good scenario was created, “there was swelled up ranks of redundant workers” (Hopper, 2003, P. 25). The real problem arose because these homeless men did not want to change even when it is evident that change was to take place. Hopper (2003) puts it better, “some took to tramping in a determined attempt to avoid work, but others hit the road because they knew of no other way of looking for it” (Hopper, 2003, p. 26).
Hopper (2003) gives a clear analysis of the attempt to change the state of homelessness in the streets on New York. These efforts have not been very successful as many of the homeless people seem to prefer the homelessness state of life and surviving on almost nothing (Hopper, 2003, p. 81). This has posed a great challenge because it seems that these people prefer the homelessness way of life-an idea whose time is long gone. By behaving in such a manner they seem to act against the norm. Their ways of actions and thinking seem to be out of the normal axis. Because of this preference (to stay homeless) these people have always found themselves on wrong side if the law and the status can be viewed as transgressive.