Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kidder, Jeffrey L. (Jeffrey Lowell), 1977-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Homeless women--Social conditions; Women--Identity--Social aspects; Shelters for the homeless--Social conditions; Identity (Psychology)--Social aspects; Sociology; Women's studies


This thesis focuses on identity talk among homeless sheltered women. Specifically, this research explores shelter resident's experiences, the ways residents cope with shelter life, and its consequences for their identities. The researcher entered the lifeworld of the shelter environment in an attempt to understand the identity management of the residents and answer the research question: "How do residents at Trinity House talk about their identity as homeless individuals?" This study was conducted in a homeless shelter in the Midwest in 2015. The research included in-depth, semistructured interviews with 10 homeless women and participant-observation in a shelter with approximately 100 residents and about 25 staff and volunteers who assist them. Semistructured interviews and informal interviews with the residents allowed them to voice their stories through self-reports. The researcher volunteered for 13 weeks at Trinity House, a shelter dedicated to assisting both homeless individuals and families. This is relevant because of the ways in which sheltered homeless women perform identity work by either submitting, resisting, or adapting to shelter rules---and engaging in distancing and/or embracement techniques to obtain, through different types identity talk, the personal identity that they want to assert to others. Trinity House residents engaged in distancing and embracement techniques to dissociate themselves from their stigmatized social identity to create positive self-identities.


Advisors: Jeffrey L. Kidder.||Committee members: Kerry O. Ferris; Simon Weffer.


65 pages




Northern Illinois University

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