Self-organization, Integration and Homeless People

In an article written by Ana Inés Heras, the topic of homelessness is addressed from a perspective not usually addressed. Many people view the homeless as a group of people in society who are “lacking a home or shelter, the abilities to work, and the capacity to conform to the norm.” They are seen as a burden to society who do not contribute to it in any positive way. However, “many of the so called excluded, marginalized and homeless have been developing a collective position of their own, and a critical thinking process about their living experience which, in turn, informs the conceptualization of self-management, collective decision-making and social solidarity economy,” describes Heras. The homeless population, most noticeably in Argentina, have been banning together to form organizations, such as  Espacio Carlos Mugica, in order to “participate in the design, implementation and assessment of public policy to protect the rights those who live on the streets.”

Events, such as the 2001 crisis  in Argentina, have caused thousands of individuals to lose their jobs and be forced into homelessness. Moreover, as early as 2003-2004, people living on the streets started to organize by establishing a meeting point in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they would discuss their issues and find ways of taking action, collectively. Primarily, their actions were geared towards supporting their lives (food, shelter, health), yet very soon, they focused on issues of public policy. By having one feature in common, homelessness, a variety of people joined together in order to try to better their lives. This topic would be of interest to anthropologists and they could study this trend cross-culturally. Would people be more likely to come together collectively as a whole if circumstances such as homelessness forced them to? Can individuals viewed as “outside of the system” make a better effort at changing public policy than those considered to be “within the system”?