Homelessness, shelter, institutionalization, women, gender, poverty


Relying on field observation and twenty qualitative interviews with shelter residents, this article examines how the bureaucracy and institutionalization within a homeless shelter fits various tenets of Goffman's (1961) "total institution," particularly with regard to systematic deterioration of personhood and loss of autonomy. Women's experiences as shelter residents are then explored via a typology of survival strategies: submission, adaptation, and resistance. This research contributes to existing literature on gendered poverty by analyzing the nuanced ways in which institutionalization affects and complicates women's efforts to survive homelessness.

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