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Chase out or unfortunate coping strategy? Analysis of urban settlement of the homeless addicts at public parks

Asiama Aikins Amoako, Lam Ka Wang Kelvin, Zhong Hua

Abstract: Extant studies have labelled persons-with-addiction and the homeless as ‘invaders’ of public parks, aggressive/violent with psychiatric and medical disorders, a burden to the society, and transmitters of most deadly airborne or chronic diseases. Literature subtly discuses that such people must be chased out of the public. Yet, such studies have not concurrently analyzed from the viewpoint of urban parks users, the persons-with-addiction and the homeless people what needs to be done to improve the situation. Therefore, the study aims to explore whether problematic communities and subcultural factors make the disadvantaged resort to negative copping strategies when their legal means are blocked: how the other park users respond to the homeless drug addicts’ hardship: and the possible suggestions from all the park users. This is done with reference to social disorganization and Sub-culture theory, and through ethnographic research approach (8 months field observation) and in-depth-interviews with 27 participants. Our study found that persons-with-addiction and the homeless are not always aggressive/violent/harmful as they have been labelled. But only disadvantaged individuals who desire to emulate the ideals and ambitions of the middle class but lack resources to achieve such success. Being overwhelmed with such frustrations from their dilemmas, they consider themselves ‘double-failures’ and retreat into drug addiction and find abode in the public spaces. We therefore conclude that persons with addiction and the homeless people are not always violent and criminal persons who are to be chased out of public parks. But only disadvantaged individuals who need help for choosing a negative coping strategy.
Keywords: parks / persons with addiction / chased / disadvantaged / addiction and the homeless / public / park users

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