Skid row : a "lifeworld" study.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Peter Berger has said that an understanding of the "social lifeworld" is very important for the sociological analysis of concrete situations. This is a 'Participant Observation' study of the "skid row lifeworld" in Christchurch; an elucidation of the Dickensian world of night shelters and common lodging houses. Much of the Social Work literature, although concerned with the amelioration of the skid row phenomenon, has nevertheless made an important sociological contribution by emphasizing the fact that the men are not so much 'on' skid row as skid row is 'in' the men. Other researchers have emphasized the "naturalistic" perspective and thus have set a methodological precedent for studying skid row. Skid row is used in a generic sense to embody not only a particular area but also the psychological and sociological ties skid rowers have to agencies of social control and to drinking on skid row. Skid row is seen as being 'constituted' by its inhabitants. The common phenomenological world that skid rowers inhabit justifies the use of the term 'skid row'. The substantive portion of this thesis deals with the 'spatial', 'temporal' and 'social' as underlying structures of subjective orientation to the lifeworld. Lyman and Scott's (1970) concept of "territoriality" is utilized to discover how skid rowers use different sites around the city. The "time track" concept, also developed by the above authors, is used. The third substantive section examines the skid rowers' relationships with agencies of social control. Against this background the skid rower attempts to place himself in a "routine" framework in order to present a "conventional" identity. The skid rower seeks to manage a tension between a reified and fatalistic world-view while seeking to "conventionalize" his identity.