Homelessness, Social Policy and Difference


  • Chris Horsell Flinders University


Homelessness, social inclusion, problem definition, redistribution, voice


In the context of market globalisation and the restructuring of welfare states in the industrialised West, social exclusion has become a central concept in articulating social disadvantage over the last 30 years. The project of social inclusion has assumed a pred- ominant position in policy frameworks to progress the values of social democracy. In Australia and internationally, homelessness has been identified as both a core outcome and cause of social exclusion. Using the South Australian Social Inclusion Initiative to address homelessness as a case in point, I argue that conceptually and operationally the discourse of social exclusion and social inclusion used by government policy bodies and service providers in the homeless sector has been largely informed by an uncritical acceptance of existing and normative social relations. However, social inclusion discourses have been an outcome of specific social, economic and political processes. I conclude that this has significant implications for social and welfare education regarding the development of critical skills in social policy analysis and critical social work. Findings from this recent study help theorise contemporary policy responses in the homeless sector and profile the nuanced issues of voice and emotion, as important new frontiers policy debates regarding the vexed questions of redistribution and recognition.


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