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Homelessness in popular culture

Homelessness in popular culture is depicted in various works. The issue is frequently described as an invisible problem, despite its prevalence. Writers and other artists play a role in bringing the issue to public attention. Homelessness is the central theme of many works; in other works homelessness is secondary, added to advance the story or contribute to dramatic effect.

Homelessness is the central subject in most of the works of art listed here.

Turn Problems into opportunities.

The homeless are frequently divided as either protagonists or antagonists. Characters, like Chaplin's Little Tramp, provide light-hearted humor through lovable personalities. Fred Glass writes the social type of Chaplin's character represented was familiar and emotionally appealing. One account given is that Chaplin based his character on a man whom he had met in San Francisco in 1914.

Other popular culture depicts the homeless as mentally ill, or even psychotic.

  • 1907. Tramping with Tramps by Josiah Flynt.
  • 1933. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell.
  • 1998. The homeless in Paris: a representative sample survey of users of services for the homeless, in Dragana Avramov, ed, Coping with homelessness : issues to be tackled and best practices in Europe, Ashgate Publishing, by Maryse Marpsat and Jean-Marie Firdion.
  • 2005. Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America by Michelle Kennedy.
  • 2005. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. ISBN 
  • 2005. Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski.


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