The general area of psychology which this article dealt with was social psychology in terms of social relations and experiences in our society as a method to explained the social isolation experienced by homeless and marginalized people living in shelters.
The specific questions that the author/s explored in this article was how are social relations a key factor that determines the social engagement or participation a person will experience. Another question was, does the lack of social interactions leads to social isolations were these individuals feel lonely. The specific issues that were raised and examined in the article were if the information obtained from the face-to-face interviews could be reliable because the homeless people were tired, hungry, some suffered from mental illness, others evaded the questions asked, also it was difficult for them to concentrated due to alcohol and drugs use.
Another factor that was troubling for the data collected was the simple fact that some were homeless for a long period of time others became homeless recently meaning that the data was going to varied because of the different point of views. For example, homeless could be open to talking about their situations, others could be ashamed, and the rest could just not talk about it because is what they have done for years as their method to coped with the situation. It can be said that this research was challenging because the researcher had to combined results from individuals who were born in different cities, upbringing, age, culture, and we’re going through different situations. Nonetheless, the main goal to find the factors for which homeless experienced social isolation and by doing this experiment researchers will be able to obtain an inside perspective that is going to be helpful in terms of helping these individuals to be more socially, provided professional assistance, and help them be part of society as anyone else.
The major conclusions of the author/s were that in order to place the homeless people interviewed into the categories that defined the social isolation they experienced, the researchers decided to created five groups/categories which are the “socially related, the satisfied loners, the socially related but lonely, the socially isolated, and the in-betweens” because not all homeless people fall under the same category or perceived social isolation the same.
Socially related: These individuals experienced extreme social marginalization but still have the support of their friends and family and communicated with one another using the internet. These homeless when they were asked if they were happy they firmly answer that they are satisfied and content with their social networks. They continue by expressing the social relations they have currently given them a sense of belonging, social and emotional support needed.
The satisfied loners: These individuals described isolation as a positive and rewarding experience not acknowledging that they were completely alone with no friends, any professional that could help them, or family member around. In other words, the lack of social relations leads these group of people to be less motivated to participate in societal activities. However, they defended themselves by stating that the reason why they voluntarily wanted to be alone was that it brought peace and quiet to live. The reality is that social networks are very little or non-existence when it comes to marginalized and homeless resulting in living alone and avoid social interactions.
The socially related but lonely: These individuals often interact with professional, people in the shelter, but still considered themselves as lonely people because all they want is to talk to family on the phone and received some kind of physical affection from them. To put it differently, these homeless feel lonely not because they don’t have people around them (professionals & shelter friends) but because these relationships are not strong enough to overcome the feeling of isolation.
The socially isolated: Had no contact with family members, did not have friends, wants nothing to do with professionals, and the only social relation they have was themselves. Experienced isolation negatively.
The in-between: This group can be defined as a person that is not lonely because they have access to social relations however feels unsatisfied with it. For example the case in the article, where a woman had a close relationship with her dad a drug user but the circumstances troubled her because it wasn’t a healthy relationship in her eyes.
The reaction that I had while reading this article was that people experienced isolation differently, some feel better being alone, and others are alone because of social constraint. Meaning that, people who have no social relations are isolated because of a personal preference and the rest who are isolated is because society excluded them due to their situation were they faced harsh circumstances with no money, house, or job. In addition, it was sad to see that most of the cases of homeless people included stories of violence, neglect, lack of love, and negatives situations. Later on, we see how those same situations from childhood reflect their adult selves. It is this notion that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, where these individuals have allowed the past to be part of their present/future instead of trying to overcome all the violence, neglect, and bad memories.
I believed that these individuals find themselves in this position because the less social support from family and friends the more social isolation and loneliness they will experience in their lives. Overall, one of the lines that shock me the most was when the homeless people told the interviewer that this was a positive and beneficial experience because for once someone, in this case, the interviewers listened and pay attention to what they have to say. This was a form of therapy for them, finally giving them an opportunity to open up to someone and talked about the situations and relationships that took them to where they are now.