Masculinity and "generational poverty" in a faith-based homelessness advocacy program: Race and class viewed through the "lenses of gender"

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - The following ethnographic study was conducted to better understand the site-specific, qualitative impact of organizational, taken-for-granted assumptions and practices regarding gender and family life in the reproduction of on-the-ground gender inequality. More specifically, this case study considers the consequences of organizational assumptions consistent with Bem's (1993) three "lenses of gender" - androcentrism, essentialism, and polarization - on direct service provision for homeless clients in a small, faith-based, social service provider. Methodology/approach - Interview and participant-observation data were gathered during time spent volunteering with Integrity Intervention (pseudonym): a small liberal Methodist outreach ministry for the homeless. Data collection was guided by the following question: How do Integrity Intervention's cultural models (or "schemas") for gender and family life shape the ways the organization becomes a gendered social space? Findings - I find that expectations for client behavior were deeply gendered, in a manner consistent with the "lenses of gender." Additionally, normative expectations for subordinate masculinities were also informed and crosscut by race and class marginalization. Ultimately, my findings suggest that the "lenses of gender" may be imbued with class and race-specific interpretive meaning. I delineate forms of site-specific gendered, racialized, and classed cultural schemata for understanding poverty and homelessness, and explain how they ultimately work together to preclude inclusive and genderequitable service provision. Limitations - This study is limited to providers and participants in one particular nonprofit organization. Originality/value - The conclusions of the study bear implications for understanding the various forms through which gender inequality is reproduced - particularly in settings of faith-based social service provision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-157
Number of pages29
JournalAdvances in Gender Research
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2017 by Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Culture
  • Family
  • Gender
  • Homelessness
  • Poverty
  • Race


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