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The Empathy Project: The Homeless

Introduction
We see it every day yet it is so easy for us to ignore it: homelessness. It is more common and a larger problem than we realize but we have accepted it into our society and that it is not easily preventable. Certain people under difficult financial circumstances can easily fall below the poverty level with our highly competitive capitalistic system. A social stigma, as defined by Dalton Conley, author of You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking Like a Sociologist, is “a negative social label that not only changes others’ behavior toward a person but also alters that person’s own self-concept and social identity” (Dalton 211). Homeless stigmas are so overtly present in our society that we overlook the actual problem and possible solution. It has been ingrained into our society that wealth defines “good” and poverty defines “bad.” Characteristics associated with this understanding of “bad” include deviance, laziness, and lack of capability. Our system has shaped us to believe that everyone has an equal chance at wealth and success, ignoring the underlying cases of the struggling individuals in our society born into their socioeconomic status that prevents them from this “American” opportunity. We have these preconceived notions of homeless people that have been proven to be untrue yet we only pay attention to the fewer examples that support it and pre-judge based on these mere instances. The situation of being homeless has been stigmatized to the point that we detach ourselves from each other as human beings and avoid facing the real problems prevalent in our system. After indicating all of the awful and dehumanizing stereotypes presented as a society, we went out and interviewed individuals with the intent of finding the truth behind all of these stigmas and gaining a better understanding of the...

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