Making Better Lives: Hope, Freedom and Home-Making among People Sleeping Rough in Paris | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Making Better Lives: Hope, Freedom and Home-Making among People Sleeping Rough in Paris

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Volume 11

WYSE Series in Social Anthropology

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Making Better Lives

Hope, Freedom and Home-Making among People Sleeping Rough in Paris

Johannes Lenhard

184 pages, 10 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-367-1 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2022)

ISBN  978-1-80539-142-5 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (January 2024)

eISBN 978-1-80539-558-4 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“…a deeply thought-provoking and an essential read.” • Housing, Theory and Society

“An intimate ethnographic account of surviving homelessness on the streets, day centers, and shelters of Paris. Lenhard not only captures the struggle and suffering faced by the marginalized, but also the homemaking and hopes of the houseless that scholars too often ignore. A must read for not only researchers of homelessness, but social workers and policymakers as well.” • Chris Herring, University of California Los Angeles

“This book is important reading not just for people interested in houselessness but for all those who are studying the tension between care and control. The analysis offers new ways to conceptualise freedom not in merely individualistic but relational terms 'freedom in dependence'.” • L.T. Schneider, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“Through a compelling ethnographic narrative, Making Better Lives follows the active practices, routines and techniques of people sleeping rough on the streets of Paris. In detailing the ways in which homeless people actively strive to survive – whether independently, in groups, or with the support of different kinds of assistants sociaux – the author provides a critical but hopeful account of how people on the streets attempt to make better lives for themselves. Their experiences are researched and narrated with such skill, honesty and compassion that it is impossible for the reader not to feel invested in them. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding homelessness and home-making, as well as the complexities of their governance.” • Lindsey McCarthy, Sheffield Hallam University

“The book is very timely as there haven’t been many ethnographic monographs published on homelessness in recent years despite homelessness growing considerably in many Western countries. In my view, the monograph makes several original contributions to the literature on homelessness.” • Jennifer Hoolachan, Cardiff University

“This is an excellent book that provides a comprehensive account of homeless persons in Paris and its neighboring areas. The book offers a lot of new and insightful lines of thought and analysis on this important and timely subject matter, with the text working well as a whole to convey the main ideas and observations involved.” • Robert Desjarlais, Sarah Lawrence College


In this ethnographic study, Johannes Lenhard observes the daily practices, routines and techniques of people who are sleeping rough on the streets of Paris. The book focusses on their survival practises, their short-term desires and hopes, how they earn money through begging, how they choose the best place to sleep at night and what role drugs and alcohol play in their lives. The book also follows people through different institutional settings, including a homeless day centre, a needle exchange, a centre for people with alcohol problems and a homeless shelter.

Johannes Lenhard is the co-director of VentureESG and affi liated lecturer at the University of Cambridge and the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy.

Subject: Anthropology (General)SociologyUrban Studies
Area: France


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