The Invisible Indigence of the Homeless

Jaime Luiz Cunha de Souza, Luis Fernando Cardoso e Cardoso


This article analyzes indigence as a social phenomenon and discusses the factors that have contributed to its permanence over time. The study focuses on street people in Belém, Pará state, Brazil, as an expression of indigence and how public authorities have treated the issue. To provide context, we discuss 19th century social hygiene polices and show how attitudes toward the homeless and thus treatment of this group has changed over time. The current homeless situation is related to the effects of neoliberal policies, psychiatric and prison deinstitutionalization processes and changes related to drug use and availability. Perception and treatment of the homeless are based are based on the biased view that these individuals are unproductive citizens or even criminals. Research results show that, while homeless populations have generally increased across the globe, we observe specific traits related to social exclusion tendencies present for centuries at the local level in Belém.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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