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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2008): Homelessness - overseas

The Making of 'undeserving' homeless women: a gendered analysis of homeless policy in South Korea from 1997 to 2001

J. Song

Feminist Review, 89, 2008, p. 87-101

The Asian Debt Crisis of 1997 to 2001 led to higher levels of unemployment, especially among male white-collar workers. For the first time it in its history, the attention of South Korea was drawn to the plight of the homeless. In spite of the existence of a longstanding population of street dwelling people before the Crisis, the government treated homelessness as a new phenomenon. It focused on unemployed homeless men pictured as being driven onto the streets by their shame at not being able to provide for their families and by their wives' complaints. Long-term street-dwelling people and homeless women were disregarded. In particular, homeless women were rendered invisible and considered undeserving because they fell outside normative gendered expectations, including the idea that a woman's place was in the home. This article analyses narratives gathered from shelter managers and Seoul City managers during the Crisis to show the different kinds of rationale they used to justify their indifference to homeless women in need.

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