Gender-based violence and young homeless women: femininity, embodiment and vicarious physical capital

Watson, J 2016, 'Gender-based violence and young homeless women: femininity, embodiment and vicarious physical capital', Sociological Review, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 256-273.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Gender-based violence and young homeless women: femininity, embodiment and vicarious physical capital
Author(s) Watson, J
Year 2016
Journal name Sociological Review
Volume number 64
Issue number 2
Start page 256
End page 273
Total pages 18
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Abstract This article discusses how the gender-based violence of homelessness contributes to young women engaging in bodily alliances with men as a strategy for physical protection. The embedding of individualized and postfeminist discourses through the conditions of neoliberalism and the structural disadvantage of homelessness have meant that young women are required to adopt self-regulatory practices and take personal responsibility for their physical safety. Drawing on Bourdieu's social capital theory and its development by Skeggs and Shilling, and based on qualitative research undertaken with fifteen young women who had experienced homelessness in Australia, I suggest that feminine capital is mobilized through necessity by young homeless women through the formation and maintenance of intimate relationships with men to access a sense of safety in an environment that is hostile to the female body. However, as the narratives presented here demonstrate, the value and privilege ascribed to (certain) male bodies is only accessible vicariously to young women, it is inherently precarious, it can undermine access to other types of capital and these intimate relationships can also be a source of gender-based violence.
Subject Social Theory
Gender Specific Studies
Keyword(s) Bodies
Bourdieu
Capital
Embodiment
Femininity
Gender
Homelessness
Violence
Young women
DOI - identifier 10.1111/1467-954X.12365
Copyright notice © 2016 Sociological Review
ISSN 0038-0261
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