"You Can Connect with Like, the World!": Social Platforms, Survival Support, and Digital Inequalities for People Experiencing Homelessness

Will Marler
2021 Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication  
This study examines how people experiencing homelessness invest their efforts in locating survival support over social media and crowdfunding and the barriers they experience along the way. Reporting on ethnographic fieldwork with unstably housed adults in Chicago, the study introduces the concept of connective ambition to describe how platform narratives take hold in a context of deep exclusion, informing a view of social media as a vast terrain of untapped support from strangers. Digital
more » ... ality emerges in the failure of campaigns to raise money for rent from virtual ties, but also in how limited skills and heightened concerns over privacy and safety discourage most people living on the street from ever seeking out support over social media. Ethnography can help better illustrate the interlocking features of offline and digital inequalities, showing how status-specific uses of social platforms emerge and shape unequal outcomes of digital participation for members of marginalized communities.
doi:10.1093/jcmc/zmab020 fatcat:erpi7ub4ybg73iomlenqhs62fm