The Social Construction of reality is a concept that was introduced by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman. This theory states that reality is created by interactions of people in a society. People create their own reality and work around and with each other’s ideas to come together. The joining of these ideas create the society’s reality and the framework for the rules. The streets, for the homeless, are an institution that is already in existence before a new person enters the streets as a homeless person. The new homeless person has to interact with the people that are already homeless in the streets. They have to learn the rules of the streets and the way of living of the other homeless people.
These interactions come from the habits that each person has and how the people in the society interact around or through each other’s habits. This leads to having reality become something that is real to the people in the society, but it does not necessarily have to be a fact about the world in general. This means that reality is subjective to the person, but it is not objective. That also means that not everybody will have the same ideas, beliefs, or values. They will vary from person to person. Since it is subjective it is able to change throughout time and throughout different people in the society. This reality that is formed from the interactions of the people within the society forms an institution. These institutions have their own set of rules that are followed within the specific society. These rules are passed down from generation to generation. The interactions that form the institutions all stem from knowledge that people have. Knowledge is the certainty that something outside of us exist. To establish the institutions, the people have to share the same knowledge throughout the society.
There is no clear cut way to describe was exactly constitutes as being homeless. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council defines homelessness as “An individual may be considered to be homeless if that person is “doubled up,” a term that refers to a situation where individuals are unable to maintain their housing situation and are forced to stay with a series of friends and/or extended family members. In addition, previously homeless individuals who are to be released from a prison or a hospital may be considered homeless if they do not have a stable housing situation to which they can return.” In some situations the person that is homeless has no family or any place to go to, so they are forced to spend their nights and days on the street. There are areas that are known as areas for the homeless. For example, Skid Row in Los Angeles is a well-known homeless area. There is a unique culture that is found here. The homeless create their own reality in these areas.
The people here know what is expected of them and what they can or can’t do. As a new person entering the streets they are expected to get used to the reality that had already been constructed before them. In the documentary, Skid Row, a man decides to see how life is in the streets as a homeless man. He spends 9 days on Skid Row to experience the reality that these people face each and every day. The reality these people have constructed includes the struggle of trying to find a place to sleep at night. They respect, for the most part, they boundaries that are set up at night. They sleep in tents and know whose tent is whose. The interaction here is that they hardly interact with one each other. They go on their own and survive on their own. The minimal interaction that they have set up the way that each person sees the reality. It is their subjective reality to live on their own and be by themselves. There are ones that go through days together and that is how they see their reality. The idea that there is no way out of the streets is an idea that is shared from person to person and that is the reality that they have set in that society. These people are all under one term, “homeless”, yet they live all apart from each other. A person entering this reality has to conform to these ideas and customs. They have to see it as their own reality.
"What Is the Official Definition of Homelessness?" National Health Care for the Homeless Council.
N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. <http://www.nhchc.org/faq/official-definition-homelessness/>.