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Herbert Gans and Michel Foucault’s’ Perspective towards the Increasing Homelessness Cases in the United States

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In the article, “Millions Living Above the Poverty Line Also Struggle to Get By”, the author states, “The large share of the population struggling to pay bills includes Americans of all types, the WOW report found. More than one-fifth of homes headed by a college graduate and 24 percent of Americans working full-time can’t make ends meet, according to the report. Those statistics indicate that economic insecurity extends beyond the unemployed or little-educated…(Berman2013).” Victims of these risk factors end up being homeless involuntarily; that is why the whole homelessness issue is complicated and hard to solve. This means that homelessness is not a housing problem or a financial issue, but it is a public health problem that can be solved from the medical perspective. In the past decade, the federal government has invested a lot in research and services to help solve the mystery of homelessness in the United States. This paper evaluates Herbert Gans and Michel Foucault’s’ perspective towards the increasing homelessness cases in the United States.

Theoretical analysis

Herbert Gans believes that the number of homeless people in the United States is high because those who are better off creates such situations as they know the homeless will be of great use to them. According to Herbert Gans poverty is a fault of the poor and homelessness is one of the consequences of poverty. He says that this issue can be solved but because the better off people do not want it solved the situation has to remain that way. A situation like this is important as they will take advantage of it to get cheap labor and create jobs. Those people who are homeless will be willing to offer ant services at any pay for them to get something to eat or a simple shelter they can call home. With more people in the streets, the dirty works can be done like cleaning the streets and the drainage systems in exchange for food and shelter.

In the attempt to solve the homelessness situation there will be job creation because more specialist will be required to offer their services (Kouri, PPT, functions of the poor by Herbert Gans, slide 4). Apart from jobs many charity organization with being formed to help with the situation and others will get a chance to organize for fundraisers to help them. To the homeless people, they will think that those who plan to help them care about them and they will volunteer to offer services as a way of appreciating. On the other hand, the high society who organize benefits for the homeless is after their own interests. The issue of homelessness in the United States may never come to an end because it is like a cycle where the high society cause the situation and then volunteer to help them never will it come a day when the better off will organize permanent benefits for the homeless because they will have no people to leech on for personal gains. From Herbert Gans perspective, homelessness within the United States will be on the rise because it has benefits to the better off people in the society.

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Michel Foucault believes that most social issues like homelessness are as a result of social failure due to misused power and knowledge. He believes that if power and knowledge are used in the right way, then it is possible for those with power and knowledge to control society. For an issue like homelessness, the main causes should be evaluated because it cannot be solved from a general perspective. Those in power may think homelessness is an issue caused by the housing problems only for them to find that even after solving the housing problem there are people out there who are still homeless. The policymakers and the administration are not playing their role to evaluate the homelessness risk factors so that the strategies to solve the issue can be created from the risk factors. You cannot solve an issue without uprooting the actual cause; otherwise, it will reoccur again in no time.

Michel Foucault says that power is everywhere and can come from anywhere, so the issue of poverty and homelessness is being escalated by use of the wrong power and ignorance to the truth and scientific understanding. In society, there are people who benefit from social issues, and they use the power they have to create such an issue. With more than one power controlling the society solving the issue becomes a mystery. To make the matter even worse, those who should be helping to come up with a solution to end homelessness in the United States are the same people behind the cause of the same situation. From Michel Foucault’s viewpoint, as long as the truth behind the homelessness situation in the United States and the understanding of it is ignored the issue will be on the rise even in the future no matter what strategies are applied to solve the issue. He says that is it easy to control society by use of power and knowledge, but the impact is determined by who uses the power.


In my opinion, Herbert Gans explains the homelessness social issue better than Michel Foucault. I feel so because homelessness has been recurring in the United States for quite some time now and it was all about power all of the federal administrations would have found a way to fight the big businesses playing behind the scenes to escalate the problem. I believe that many Americans do not want the issue to be solved because of the benefits it brings to the economy. Most of the high society benefit from the situation as it creates more opportunities for them and they will never push for the issue to be solved. There are disadvantages for having so many people in the streets, but their contribution to wealth-making is all that matters. I feel that this situation is caused on purpose because there is no way a country with a large economy as ours would not be able to solve a social issue lie homelessness whose causes and risk factors are known.

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Herbert Gans and Michel Foucault’s’ Perspective towards the Increasing Homelessness Cases in the United States. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“Herbert Gans and Michel Foucault’s’ Perspective towards the Increasing Homelessness Cases in the United States.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
Herbert Gans and Michel Foucault’s’ Perspective towards the Increasing Homelessness Cases in the United States. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2023].
Herbert Gans and Michel Foucault’s’ Perspective towards the Increasing Homelessness Cases in the United States [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2023 Sept 28]. Available from:
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