Social capital of homeless youth: Influence of networks on educational participation

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Conference Title

American Educational Research Association Annual Conference


San Diego, CA

Conference Dates

April 13-17, 2009

Date of Presentation



The paper presentation will examine the experiences homeless youth face and the influence of social networks on their education. Using a social capital framework, we analyze the experiences that are different for poor youth in general and those who are homeless. As a qualitative study the data utilized include interviews with 120 homeless youth and 45 policymakers, school counselors, and after-school program coordinators to understand how youth experience the educational system. Youth identified three aspects of their lives that influence network development: (1) mobility and stability; (2) meeting basic needs; and, (3) anonymity and shame. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the temporary nature of their residential stability requires a systemic response by the educational system.

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