Crossing the Border:
Encounters Between Homeless People and Outreach Workers

University of California Press, 1999


The relationship between people who are homeless and providers of social services occurs at a border where the disenfranchised and the representatives of mainstream society encounter each other. Crossing the Border, the only full-length study of street outreach to people with mental illness who are homeless, uses ethnographic tools to examine their encounters with clinicians and case managers at the social, psychological, and physical boundaries of society. The book provides a rich picture not only of a particular group of people experiencing homelessness, but also of the complicated and high-stakes interactions between those who are marginalized and those who are trying to help them. As it examines both the dilemmas and opportunities of ‘homeless outreach’ work, Crossing the Border also asks us to consider broader questions about how to we relate to poor and other persons excluded from mainstream society.

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