From observation to action: Ethnography of and in homelessness services

Valentina Porcellana


The article analyzes the policies concerning extreme poverty implemented by the City of Turin, the transformations of services for homeless people occurred since the ’80s, and the resulting impacts on both workers and users. Moreover, it debates the findings of an extended fieldwork a group of anthropologists and designers has conducted since 2009 in the local social services, in order to understand them and to collectively imagine possible evolutions. Thanks to the ongoing “observation of participation”, the research illuminated social services’ working and meanings and, at the same time, introduced in these organizations the critical perspective of political anthropology and anthropology of the welfare policies.

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