The paradoxical discourses of marginalization: the function and resistance to the myth of homelessness
Though communication and media scholars have dealt at length with the content of mediated discourses that disenfranchise the homeless community and how those texts affect the homeless, the continued marginalization of the homeless invites continued study as to why the stigmatizing discourses occur. Specifically, this thesis sought to find the reasoning behind mediated narratives about the homeless that disenfranchise an already subordinated population. By relying on mythic, narrative, and critical rhetorical theory, this study interprets mediated discourses about the homeless to find an overarching narrative that is used to homogenize the entire homeless population with a stigmatizing over-arching narrative structure. This project defines the myth of homelessness, which is the overarching narrative that provides the domiciled community with a constructed (and inaccurate) view of the homeless, which serves as cognitive guidance to oppress the homeless population. After creating and defining the myth of homelessness, newspaper articles from The Tuscaloosa News, Weld for Birmingham, and The Birmingham Voice are assessed for the ways in which the myth of homelessness is enacted. Using a critical rhetorical approach, this thesis argues that narratives from both dominant sources and from homeless ally sources operate within the myth of homelessness, which blames the homeless for their situation and creates a paradox wherein they are expected to remove themselves from homelessness but are also stripped of personal agency. Defining the mythic structure that constitutes public and private discourse about the homeless has implications concerning resistant discourses and mythic theory.