The research investigates the question, why live in a tent city? The study is informed by literature on U.S. tent cities and by theoretical understandings of deviance and stigmatization. The study contributes an analytical model—integrating Leon Anderson, David Snow, and Daniel Cress’ eight stigma management strategies with Robert Merton’s strain theory and Pierre Bourdieu’s forms of capital—to consider the modern context of tent cities. Ethnography of a tent city in Wooster, Ohio promotes the use of public sociology to engage homeless individuals in addressing a paradox of visibility: wherein the excessive visibility of homelessness spurs a desire for individuals to retreat; however, retreating rouses societal curiosity and thus greater visibility. The study concludes that tent cities are ineffective retreats; yet, the encampments are an innovative response to homelessness. Further research is needed to explore the possibility of tent cities as sites of successful rebellion through collective action.


Matsuzawa, Setsuko


Sociology and Anthropology


Community-Based Research | Inequality and Stratification | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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