2000 volume 18(6) pages 715 – 735

Cite as:
Cloke P, Milbourne P, Widdowfield R, 2000, "Homelessness and rurality: ‘out-of-place’ in purified space?" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18(6) 715 – 735

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Homelessness and rurality: ‘out-of-place’ in purified space?

Paul Cloke, Paul Milbourne, Rebekah Widdowfield

Received 22 May 1998; in revised form 1 July 1999

Abstract. In this paper we discuss the apparent failure to couple together the constructs of ‘rurality’ and ‘homelessness’, and propose a critical deconstruction of this noncoupling. Three principal lines of arguments are employed. First, there are a range of physical and material reasons why rural and urban spaces have varying qualities for hiding or revealing homeless people, and why the embodied experiences of homelessness have varying geographies. Second, there are a series of obstacles that exist within the practices, thoughts, and discourses of rural dwellers themselves, which lead them to deny that homelessness exists in their place. Third, normalised conceptualisations about rurality and homelessness often serve to separate the two concepts, and contribute to the assumption that homelessness is an urban phenomenon, which is rendered invisible in rural space. In short, homelessness may be conceptualised as being ‘out-of-place’ in the purified spaces of rurality, and the imaginary geographies of rurality and homelessness become transformed into everyday practices and actions relating to what people actually do in and about rural places. This critical deconstruction will be important for any attempts to recouple homelessness and rurality in the understandings and actions of policymakers.

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