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Social representations and homelessness: A study on the construction of expert knowledge.

Udaondo, Alicia Renedo (2008) Social representations and homelessness: A study on the construction of expert knowledge. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

In this thesis I develop a social representational approach to understanding expert knowledge on homelessness. I relate the concept of cognitive polyphasia with Bakhtin's views on the polyphony of the person, and Herman and Kempen's concept of the dialogical self. I link dialogical epistemology and ontology to show that, (i) polyphony and polyphasia of self and knowledge are two sides of the same coin, and (ii) the inner plurality of the person is grounded in the multiple self-other relationships within which identity and knowledge are co-constituted and where different ideas and practices clash and compete. I show that our ability to position ourselves in relation to the knowledge of others explains how the meanings, practices and identities that co-exist within individuals and groups are put to use, enabling us to function in multiple relationships and contexts. The research involved a multidimensional approach comprising: (1.) narrative interviews and focus groups with homelessness professionals (HPs) working in the UK voluntary sector and (2.) participative observation at conferences, and in a voluntary agency. The research showed that homelessness is a contested and contradictory notion. Expert representational fields are simultaneously, identity and knowledge struggles, sharply characterized by cognitive polyphasia, whose contents and dynamics are drawn from the dialogues and battles between the voluntary and the statutory sector and the public at large. I conclude by suggesting that identity and knowledge are inseparable from both the multiple relationships in which they develop and from processes of self-other positioning.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Sociology, Public and Social Welfare
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2140

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