This paper is a post disciplinary study of homeless
women in Casa Florence, a Phoenix shelter through an
ethnographic method. It investigates how they are
affected by gendered stereotypes in the built environment,
what their experiences of living in the city tell us about
the underlying power structures and the gender ideologies
that they themselves may be embedded in and how their
experiences in turn point towards a global situation.
The study involved open ended questions with the women
about a conscious discussion of their experiences through
direct questions; indirect questions about cultural and
ideological givens that influence them, such as the house
they grew up in; specific questions related to their built
environment such as the experience of living in the
shelter and the neighborhood and finally cognitive
questions by asking them to sketch their ideal home.
The research found that the location and the internal
arrangement of Casa Florence symbolized the power that
the social welfare system exerted on the women. With the
rise of a post-industrial society in America, patriarchal
bases of policy and planning and changes in occupational
structure many such women become homeless due to reduction
in service-sector jobs. The spread of capitalism that has
sanctioned exploitation in the South has also silenced the
voices of the 'others' in the North. Till we have had a
total rethinking in our value systems, it seems that many
shelters such as Casa Florence will continue to marginalize
homeless women from our society.
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