Graduation Date

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Program

Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Meredith Williams

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Christina Martinek

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Sociology

Abstract

Homelessness is a social and political issue of great importance in the United States. For every 10,000 people in the U.S. 17 are experiencing homelessness (Bishop et al. 2017). Despite being a consequence of structural factors in the economy such as a lack of affordable housing and livable wages, the news media often frames the issue as an outcome of individualistic factors such as deviant characteristics, criminality, and personal flaws like drug addiction and mental illness. This study examines public perceptions of homelessness in Humboldt County. To explore this question, I conducted a content analysis of 94 articles on homelessness published from 2008 to 2017 in a popular online news media source, the Lost Coast Outpost (LOCO). Previous research suggests public perceptions can be understood by analyzing the media because public knowledge is often derived from mediated experience (Hodgetts and Radley 2005). Often, the public must rely on the media to understand issues such as homelessness, which they do not have direct knowledge and experience with (Calder and Burns 2011). The findings of this study reveal that the LOCO consistently utilized stigmatizing labels, and unsympathetic frames to influence public perceptions in order to support policies that criminalize homelessness and exclude the homeless from public spaces. These findings are consistent with previous research into media constructions of a stigmatized homeless identity and social policies of exclusion.

Citation Style

ASA

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