Las personas "sin hogar" en la ciudad de Madridun análisis de los nuevos procesos de desigualdad social en el marco de sociedades en transformación

Supervised by:
  1. Esteban Sánchez Moreno Director
  2. Andrés Arias Astray Director

Defence university: Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Fecha de defensa: 16 December 2016

  1. María Margarita Campoy Lozar Chair
  2. María José Barahona Gomariz Secretary
  3. Enrique Pastor Seller Committee member
  4. Luis Enrique Alonso Benito Committee member
  5. Yolanda María de la Fuente Robles Committee member
  1. Sociología: Metodología y Teoría

Type: Thesis


This research results from concerns as to the effect of social change processes driven by the start of the Great Recession that arrived in Spain in 2008 in terms of increasing and transforming social inequalities in general, and homelessness in particular. The homeless reality is one of the most extreme manifestations of social exclusion and, as with the current crisis, it is rooted in sociohistorical processes that mainly date back to the transformations occurring in capitalist democracies from the 1970s onwards. In this regard, this work examines in detail the processes of social change that have arisen since that time –and, most importantly, since 2008 – in order to analyse their effect in the transformation of the life pathways that have led to homelessness in the city of Madrid. An analysis of the social, labour, economic, political and legislative transformations and their impact on the homeless reality was carried out for such purpose. Sociostructural factors are thus positioned as fundamental explanatory elements in understanding this phenomenon, the changes that are affecting it, and the dynamics at play in this complex social reality. Due to their significance in the analysis of social inequalities, these factors are those linked to changes in the labour market, welfare state, and housing market and policy. The research has two general objectives. The first is to analyse the new forms of inequality linked to processes of social change and their consequences in processes of social exclusion. The second general objective is to analyse homelessness in the new context established by recent processes of social change. These objectives are in turn both underpinned by a fundamental research question, that is, to analyse if the social change processes that have taken place in Spain since the start of the Great Recession have affected social inequalities and situations of social exclusion. A qualitative methodology was used to address the object of study (the objectives) and respond to the research questions, in the form of a biographical approach involving 10 life stories from the homeless population of the city of Madrid. Taking sociostructural representativeness as a fundamental principle, this work used non-probability, intentional and theoretical sampling. This research approach was adopted in an attempt to discover the sociohistoric determinants that underpin the new forms taken by homelessness in the context of recent processes of social change. The research has produced significant results, permitting an understanding of how processes of social change are affecting the life stories that result in homeless realities in the context of the Great Recession. First, a biographical summary of each one of the life stories considered is presented. Second, an analysis is carried out of such life stories in the context of the social change processes that have occurred in employment, housing and the welfare state. In this respect, the main results point to life stories involving the development of situations of homelessness that are marked by the employment crisis (unemployment, precariousness and labour segmentation), by the erosion of the protective capacity of social protection systems, and by the residential problems that find their most dramatic expression in evictions and mortgage foreclosures. The main conclusion arising out of the study is that the transformations that have occurred in the labour, housing and social protection areas have increased these areas’ impact on the occurrence and transformation of the homeless reality. The study confirms that the processes of social, political, economic and legislative change experienced in Spain since the start of the crisis have generated new situations, different from the traditional ones, involving risk of extreme social exclusion. Hence, faced with new situations of risk that are directly linked to the sociostructural processes reviewed in this work, it is concluded that the arrival of the Great Recession has transformed the life paths of the homeless population of the city of Madrid. All of the above has important implications for social work, for social intervention and for carrying out future research. There is a need to pay more direct attention both to the homeless population and to analysing the sociostructural factors that comprise the foundations of the new forms of social inequality created by the crisis, as well as their effect on homelessness. Only in this way can policies for eradicating and preventing situations of extreme social exclusion be developed.