Homelessness, travel behavior, and the politics of transportation mobilities in Long Beach, California

Christine L. Jocoy, Vincent J Del Casino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The geography of homelessness is often characterized as containment in marginalized spaces of cities or as placelessness necessitating continuous travel. These characterizations, which reflect discourses about 'the homeless' as an imagined deviant homogeneous group, have had substantial effects on policy formation and critiques of punitive turns in urban governance. Suggested policy responses frequently assume straightforward relationships between power/powerlessness and mobility/immobility binaries that do not appropriately portray actual mobility patterns of homeless individuals. Through focus groups and structured interviews, this paper examines the daily mobility of homeless adults in Long Beach, California, to identify the ways in which the everyday travel of homeless individuals compares with these 'imagined' characterizations and with national US household travel patterns. Results show that homeless mobility is highly spatially constrained and structured by sociocultural relations of stigmatization, economic productivity, and personal responsibility that are reflected in the operational conventions and institutional practices of transportation and social welfare systems. Nonetheless, during the course of a day, homeless individuals move among spaces where they experience varying levels of inclusion and exclusion, thus complicating static, homogeneous characterizations. This analysis contributes to both the urban transport and social geography literatures by demonstrating the value of combining sociocultural approaches to the study of mobility with more typical transportation geography analyses of individual travel behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1943-1963
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Volume42
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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homelessness
travel behavior
politics
beach
travel
geography
urban transport
social geography
stigmatization
containment
social welfare
exclusion
Group
productivity
inclusion
governance
responsibility
discourse
interview
economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this

Homelessness, travel behavior, and the politics of transportation mobilities in Long Beach, California. / Jocoy, Christine L.; Del Casino, Vincent J.

In: Environment and Planning A, Vol. 42, No. 8, 2010, p. 1943-1963.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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