Outcast groups vary historically in their composition and in the political meanings and symbols attached to them. What we observe about one group of outcasts, the homeless in New York City, finds its reflections on a historical screen of alternating concern and contempt for the poor.
This group invites political interest because its symbolic associations have been unexpectedly positive for several reasons, among them: (1) the special characteristics of the group and its growing numbers and visibility in front of opulent high-risers and on the steps of elegant Manhattan brownstones and everywhere else in the city; (2) the sharply critical response of many New Yorkers to current national welfare and economic policies; (3) the crea...
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