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Matthew D. Marr compares and reveals how social contexts at various levels shape the experiences of transitional housing programs in Los Angeles and Tokyo.
Matthew D. Marr is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida International University.
David A. Snow, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine, co-author of Down on Their Luck: A Study of Homeless Street People:
Tracking the exiting process among the homeless ethnographically, longitudinally, and comparatively in Los Angeles and Tokyo, Matthew D. Marr advances a more holistic understanding of how homelessness is created, sustained, and alleviated by focusing on how the different contexts in which homelessness is embedded interact locally, nationally, and globally. This contextual, multilevel approach challenges popular neoliberal, individual-deficits, and medical-model approaches to homelessness. In doing so, it constitutes a big step forward in understanding the dynamics of homelessness, particularly the exiting process. Better Must Come provides a penetrating and most welcome addition to the social science and policy literature on homelessness and is a must-read for those interested in how and why some homeless transition out of the condition and others do not.
Kim J. Hopper, Columbia University, author of Reckoning with Homelessness:
In Better Must Come, Matthew D. Marr fashions a useful corrective to much contemporary work on homelessness, and he does so in a readable, well-organized, and approachable way. His originality, thoroughness, and commitment to getting his account right and doing justice to a multilevel analysis are impressive.
Nik Theodore, University of Illinois–Chicago, coauthor of Afterlives of Neoliberalism:
Better Must Come is a wonderful contribution to the study of social disadvantage in Tokyo and Los Angeles, two global cities marked by entrenched inequalities and deepening polarization. Marr's comparative ethnography carefully traces the complex pathways into and out of homelessness, showing how market failures and welfare state retrenchment are actively contested by men and women struggling to free themselves from the ravages of extreme poverty. Rather than conceiving of homelessness as a static condition of debilitating deprivation, Marr extends the ethnographic horizon to explore his subjects’ transitions out of their highly precarious living conditions. In doing so he honors the agency of the homeless, while critically evaluating the promise and limitations of various state-initiated strategies aimed at alleviating extreme poverty.
Marr challenges the popular image of homelessness as a stable condition or identity by skillfilly examining exit processes over a range of social contexts at multiple levels.... This book is a must read for academics and practitioners interested in ending homelessness and envisioning alternative wats that can tackles structural inequalities.
Through analysis of multiple exit stories, Marr's work not only identifies a myriad of social, structural, and systemic obstacles that complicate transition out of homelessness, but also shines a light on the contextual conditions that facilitate pathways to greater socio-economic security.... Marr’s work is valuable for the advances it makes in delineating the ways in which neoliberalism, welfare systems, labor markets, support programs, social attitudes, and civic, private, and public sector actors interact at two distinct urban points in the global picture of homelessness. Moreover, his work retains a crisp focus on the interplay between structural and social influences at multiple levels and how these shape long-term trajectories—and possibilities for exit—in individual lives.... In Better Must Come, Marr does not shy from challenging widely-held perceptions of homelessness. He advances a rigorous and graceful analysis of conditions in both cities using clear language, well-defined terms, and concise organization that together render the subject accessible to a wide range of readers, regardless of familiarity with homelessness or related policy in Japan or the US. At the same time, it is a sharp academic work that will interest scholars, policymakers, and practitioners alike.
In this comparative analysis of how homeless people escape homelessness in Los Angeles and Tokyo, Marr instead focuses on the decisive role of such contextual factors as social ties with family, friends, or program staff as well as access to mainstream labor markets and subsidized housing. Marrs perspective provides important lessons about why some people are able to exit homelessness and others remain homeless for years on end.Summing Up:Recommended.
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