• Ulla Mortensen
  • Pernille Märcher Dalgas
4. semester, Læring og Forandringsprocesser, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
This master thesis focuses on the vendors of the Danish street paper Hus Forbi. Hus Forbi was first published in 1996 on the occasion of the UN international year for the eradication of poverty, which was also the year that Copenhagen was the European Capital of Culture. The goal of Hus Forbi is to put homelessness and social inequality on the political agenda and to provide new opportunities for homeless people. The paper is sold on the street by homeless and former homeless people. According to the secretary of the organization behind Hus Forbi, this provides an alternative to begging or stealing for the vendors. The organization attaches great importance to the fact that the paper is sold in this way, as they believe that this provides a learning experience for both vendor and buyer. They believe that this meeting will help tear down the prejudices on both ends. Inspired by the way we as students find meaning in the activities we take part in, we ask who the vendors are and how the role as vendor gives meaning to their lives. To answer this question, we use document analysis and interviews as our qualitative research methods. The document analysis is based on a regular monthly section in the paper, where recently started vendors are portrayed. For the analysis we constructed a scoring system inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s forms of capitals. Scoring 24 portraits of vendors (equivalent to two years of releases) based on this scoring system, we construct four ideal types representing the typical vendors. The scoring system allows us to see that the vendors have very different histories. The majority have a history of work experience and for some also education, but when it comes to their social network there are differences. While some have friends and family supporting them, the social network of others are limited to institutional staff. Each ideal type seems to have a different motivation for becoming a vendor. While some emphasize the money they earn as a way to get back to "normal life", others are motivated by the social interaction inherent in the job. We expand upon this insight by making qualitative research interviews. We interview six vendors while they are selling Hus Forbi on the street, which allows us to observe how they interact with their customers. The aim is to analyze what meaning the individual vendor finds in the role as a vendor. By using Erving Gofmann's theater metaphors and concept of stigma (and partially also the concept of field and habitus by Pierre Bourdieu), we view the role as vendor as a specific, individually performed act. This allows us to analyze how each vendor performs in a way, that he finds meaningful. We find, that the roles the vendors play and their way of dealing with the stigma connected to selling a street paper are very diverse. While some perform their role as people working as everybody else, others perform a role in which the paper becomes a prop that creates contact between themselves and other people in the street. Interacting with customers or other vendors is a way to access help and support, as well as a way to avoid loneliness. Also, for some the paper acts a mouth piece through which they can speak up about the political causes they find important. The general conclusion is, that the vendors of Hus Forbi to a certain extent are a heterogeneous group when it comes to motivation and how they construct meaning in their work as vendors. At the same time we see a pattern, in that most of the vendors (based on both the document analysis and the interviews) have histories with quite extensive work experience. This then leads us to a final discussion of whether the vendor of Hus Forbi primarily are the strongest and most resourceful of the homeless.
Udgivelsesdato3 aug. 2015
ID: 216907119