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'Your Life When You’ve Got Everything is Different’: Forced Transformations and Consumption Practices

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Abstract

Purpose – By analysing the experience of homelessness, this chapter aims to understand how individuals experience involuntary life changes in uncertain contexts and analyses the role of consumption, in terms of possessions and practices, along the process.
Methodology/approach – This study adopts a phenomenological approach, focusing on the homelessness experience. It involves an 18 month quasi-ethnography study in a charity that supports the homeless individuals, where interviews about their retrospective biographical accounts were performed. The data was analysed using existential phenomenological procedures.
Findings – Informants’ pathways to homelessness reveal a four-stage process of forced self-transformation (initial self, forced negotiation, transition, transformed self) which takes place across two stressful situational contexts: the triggering events for transformation (i.e. that led informants to lose their home) and the persisting state of uncertainty (i.e. further survival living in the streets).
Social implications – In the current postmodern times there is greater uncertainty surrounding individuals’ life changes. The consequences of the current economic crisis have threatened individuals to lose their homes. By having a better understanding of the way individuals experience this type of loss, the study brings new information about how to support them.
Originality/value of chapter – This study highlights contexts where Van Gennep's transformational routine may not be suitable in the current postmodern times, and provides an alternative transformational routine that takes into account the uncertainty that accompanies involuntary transformations.