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Abstract

The social constructionist approach offers conceptual tools that may augment social workers' persuasive powers and problem solving capacities. In this case study, I examine a newspaper campaign to cast the homeless in negative terms and justify the closing of a shelter. Findings are presented as seven themes used by competing claims-makers. Each constructs a different depiction of the homeless, of homelessness, and of preferred solutions. Linkages between community memberships and favored problem definitions are identified. I conclude with suggestions for how "intelligent social reconstruction" might help social workers function as sympathy brokers for the vulnerable. (Key words: homelessness, NIMBY, mass media, constructionist approaches to social problems).

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