SSC101: Social Problems in Society and Culture: Social Status and Homelessness


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Throughout the first two weeks of the class, you have been introduced to the social sciences, the concept of social problems, and different aspects of society and culture. At this point, you likely are noticing that some social issues that may seem straightforward, are actually very complex issues with multiple different contributing factors. Putting it differently, distinct social problems, such as the one you are examining for your final, are actually at the intersection of a number of different social and cultural factors. One such social problem is that of homelessness.


In the media and within our culture, homeless persons are often portrayed in a negative light, and the homeless problem is often portrayed from the point of view of those that are not homeless. Further, homelessness is often seen as a moral failing of the individuals that are homeless, as a byproduct of self-destructive behavior. As a result of these stigmas, local laws and ordinances frequently target homeless individuals through various sanctions.

Homelessness and joblessness are often conflated within American culture, but studies have shown that between 40 and 50 percent of homeless Americans are employed, and up to a quarter have full time positions (Meyer et al, 2021). Homelessness is generally a condition of poverty, or at least very low income, and recall that within the United States, income is influenced by both educational access and education quality. As a result, social groups that are disproportionately impacted by lower wages, poverty, food insecurity, and inequity in education (discussed in chapter 11) thus experience homelessness at disproportionate levels: Latinos are twice as likely to experience homelessness than White Americans, while Black Americans and Native Americans are almost five times more likely to experience homelessness than White Americans (Moses, 2019; Biess, 2017).

However, there are social and cultural factors that contribute to homelessness as well: for example, LGBTQ children are over twice as likely to face homelessness as non-LGBTQ youth (Voices of Youth Count, 2021), and veterans, who comprise 7 percent of the U.S. population, make up over 11 percent of the homeless individuals in the United States. (Stasha, 2022). Thus, homelessness is a complex social problem which is impacted by a number of social and cultural factors and can be seen as a master status for the individual.


The complex nature of homelessness in the United States will serve as the subject for this assignment, and you will examine homelessness as a social problem in the United States, examine homelessness in a group that experiences homelessness at a higher rate than the overall population, and as a master status for homeless individuals.

First, choose one of the following groups that experience homelessness at a higher rate than the general population in the U.S.

  • Homeless veterans
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Latino Americas
  • Native American
  • African Americans

In a 5-6 paragraph (2-3 page) essay, examine homelessness in the United States as a social problem with multiple contributing factors. Make sure to pay particular attention to issues of social stratification, social categories, power, norms, and values. Address the following:

  • Examine the factors that can lead to homelessness in general (1 paragraph)
  • Analyze how these and other social/cultural issues impact homelessness as experienced by the group you have selected above (1-2 paragraphs)
  • Examine how homelessness can be seen as a master status that is the result of different ascribed and attained statuses. Make sure you discuss how homelessness is looked at within American culture with regards to norms and values. (1 paragraph)

You will be required to use at least four sources for this assignment: the two required sources below (one aligned to your topic, the other required for everyone), your text, and at least one additional scholarly source from the library.

Require Sources:

All Topics (you MUST use this source)

Hodgetts, D., Stolte, O., Nikora, L. W., & Groot, S. (2012). Drifting along or dropping into homelessness: A class analysis of responses to homelessness Antipode, 44(4), 1209-1226.

African Americans and Latinos

Moses, J. (2019). Demographic data project: Race, ethnicity, and homelessness Homelessness Research Institute.…


Voices of Youth Count (2021). Missed opportunities: LGBTQ youth homelessness in America.

Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.…

Native Americans

Biess, J. (2017). Homelessness in Indian country is a hidden but critical problem

The Urban Institute.

Homeless Veterans

Stasha, S. (2021) How many veterans are homeless in the US 2022


Other References

Meyer, B.D., Wyse, A., Grunwaldt, A., Medalia, C., & Wu, D. (2021) Learning about homelessness using linked survey and administrative data. Working Paper no. 2021-65. Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at UChicago.…

Paper Requirements:

  • Must be at least two to three double-spaced pages in length (not including title and reference pages) and formatted according to APA style.
  • Must include a separate title page formatted according to APA format
  • Must include an introduction and conclusion paragraph. Your introduction paragraph needs to end with a clear thesis statement that indicates the purpose of your paper.
  • Must utilize academic voice. Your responses to the prompts should be accurate, thorough, and written in complete sentences. See the Academic Voice resource for additional guidance.
  • Must document any information used from sources in APA style as outlined in the Writing Center’s Citing Within Your Paper guide.
  • Must include a separate references page that is formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Writing Center. See the Formatting Your References List resource in the Writing Center for specifications.

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