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Sociol Q. 2012;53(1):25-43.

Confrontations and donations: encounters between homeless pet owners and the public.

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  • 1University of Colorado at Boulder.


This study examines the interactions between homeless pet owners and the domiciled public with a focus on how the activities of pet ownership help construct positive personal identities. Homeless people are often criticized for having pets. They counter these attacks using open and contained responses to stigmatization. More often, they redefine pet ownership to incorporate how they provide for their animals, challenging definitions that require a physical home. Homeless pet owners thus create a positive moral identity by emphasizing that they feed their animals first and give them freedom that the pets of the domiciled lack. Through what we call “enabled resistance,” donations of pet food from the supportive public provide the resources to minimize the impact of stigmatization.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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