Monday, November 19, 2007

In & Out of Place

In/out of place
If places are in some sense socially constructed, whether literal or metaphorical, they are not neutral but is always defined in some sense by power. Those in power have the power to define the meaning and the norm. Politics, racism, and class all play into defining place. Inherent within the idea of place is what exists outside of that place. In the same way, what is outside defines in part what is inside.[1] These ideas of physical arrangements are often used in common speech without conscious consideration of what is excluded. Phrases like “in ones place” or “out of place” suggest normative behavior. Those who do not act in accord with the normative behavior are considered “out of place.”

Homelessness is not just a lack of a place, but defined in terms of power, home becomes the norm creating the home-less the outsider of society. In Western society, the home connotes ideals of prosperity, safety, family. When we refer to someone as “homeless” we are not only making statement about their lack of a “house” but an implicit judgment about the lack of a “home” and the attached ideology of a home.[2]

[1] Ibid., 102.
[2] Ibid., 115.