The Role of Social Networks of Homeless Men in Escaping Homelessness: A Qualitative Study in Istanbul

Creative Commons License

Akyurt M. A., Ekinci M. H.

XX ISA World Congress of Sociology, Melbourne, Australia, 25 June 2023, pp.18

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Melbourne
  • Country: Australia
  • Page Numbers: pp.18
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The success stories of the former homeless are not only related to public and civil contributions, but also to their cultural capital, level of hope, future plans, and ways to deal with uncertainty. Social networks of homeless people among themselves and their social ties with local actors are also important for their social reintegration, participation and inclusion. This paper tries to describe the experience of leaving homelessness with special emphasis on the contacts among and around chronic homeless men. It aims to explore their daily routines, place choices, local environments and relations they built both before (family members, relatives and friends) and during homelessness (shopkeepers, NGO volunteers, public officers and other homeless people). Is the social capital gained before or after homelessness more important in the recovery process? What is the share of hierarchy and cooperation in homeless groups? How do their ties to local networks effect their recovery? In order to understand the role and functioning of social networks in the experience of leaving homelessness closer, this research adopts qualitative method and phenomenological design. The study analyzes data retrieved from external and participant observation in public areas with higher homeless population, and in-depth interviews with NGO volunteers, public officers (social workers, security guards, mosque priests or imams etc.), owners or employees of firms (restaurant, hotel, bakery etc.) who are in close contact with homeless people, and with former homeless individuals themselves. Initial findings of the 24-months research project on escaping homelessness in Istanbul funded by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK 121K287) show that some streetwise senior homeless men have an organizing role and a higher prestige among homeless groups, and those “public character”s constitute a bridge between the homeless and local civil actors which accelerates others’ escape from homelessness.