Trajectories of Homeless Youth in Austria

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Karina FERNANDEZ, University of Graz, Austria
For almost 20 years there is intensive scientific examination of the phenomenon of homeless young people taking place. The German Youth Institute (DJI) established the concept of street-careers that is marked by a gradual shift away from "normal conditions" to a life on the street. In this proposal I want to present the results of a study in which I followed this concept. The aim of the study is to describe the patterns of street-careers. I took special interest in the triggering conditions and the processes and mechanisms, which strongly influence the patterns of street-careers. The research was undertaken in a scene of homeless young people in Austria. The chosen research methodology was a Grounded Theory Ethnography, which included a six-month participatory observation and 45 interviews. I developed a model, which describes the processes of street careers. The core categories are the reference to anchors outside the scene and the force field, which consists of suction and rejection. Depending on the combination of these forces, different course-patterns can be described. In comparison to the studies of the 90s, the analyses showed that due to social transformation processes these young people have to deal with more exclusionary mechanisms today. For example due to the increasing expulsion from the public space that has been increasing in Austria within the last 10 years, they have become vulnerable because they are no longer reachable for the institutions of social work. In the session,  the transitions from youth to adulthood in the vulnerable position of homlesness and the impact this has on street carreers will be discussed.