The social relationships of homeless women

  • Anna Maria Pampel University College Maastricht
  • Mari Ann Stegmaier University College Maastricht


Addressing a gap in literature about female homelessness, this paper analyzes the role of social relationships in the lives of homeless women. Bourdieu’s theory of social capital and Granovetter’s theory of social ties are used as a theoretical framework. The specific analytical focus is on social relationships with family and romantic partners and how these relationships contribute to homeless women’s social capital. It was firstly found that despite family being a source of emotional and instrumental support, homeless women’s limited or absent family relations represent a burden. Secondly, romantic relationships can provide support and simultaneously represent a straining factor. We conclude that social relationships to both family and romantic partners can in some cases be a source of support but most often are an additional burden to the already disadvantaged situation of homeless women.