The Hobo The Sociology Of The Homeless Man Analysis

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The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man, authored by Nels Anderson, offers an account of the behaviors, choices, relationships and living situations of the homeless in 1920’s Chicago. This study, conducted for the Chicago Council of Social Agencies, provides a platform to voice first hand accounts of the adventures and the hardships of the vagrant life. Born to a Swedish immigrant father and housemaid mother, Anderson spent much of his childhood moving around; from The West, to an Indian reservation, to Hobohemia, he moved 10 times over the course of 10 years. Anderson seeks answers to the many questions surrounding homelessness because he grew up in a milieu that only knew the vagrant life. Once he left high school, Anderson joined the…show more content…
To Anderson, the existing articles and books on homelessness were unable to accurately touch upon the vagrancy problem in Chicago. He, on the other hand, had personal experience. The Hobo omits any direct personal accounts from Anderson, but his perspective has given him an advantage in connecting with his interview subjects and with his writing. He has since come to realize the humor in his writing a work on the hobo “getting by’ for the sake of also trying to ‘get by’ in his new Chicago student life. The Hobo is the first of his works and provided a foundation for him to develop his unique ethnographic approach that incorporates his personal experience with unstructured interviews and statistical data to paint a picture of the homeless…show more content…
Anderson moves between four parts, examining first the dwellings of the hobo, passing through the different types of homeless man, their problems, and ending with a glimpse at the social and intellectual aspects of vagrant life. Much of his research is done in the four segregated areas of Chicago known for homeless and migratory workers: West Madison Street, Lower South State Street, North Clark Street and Upper State Street. This study is marked by its many divisions and classifications. Homeless men are divided into five categories: the seasonal labourer, the migratory worker (hobo), the migratory non-worker (tramp), the non-migratory labourer (home-guard), and the bum. Another notable division are the causes of becoming a migratory worker. Reasons fall under either economic or physical/personal categories. The fluctuation of migratory workers is usually caused by unemployment and seasonal work. However, feable-mindedness or personality defects, problems in personal life, and physical or mental handicaps can also leave a man out of work. Furthermore, Anderson mentions loss of status or employment because of discrimination, and indicating wanderlust as a motive to continually be moving, thus in between jobs. His emotional investment in the subject makes it hard for Anderson to keep

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