Out of Sight Out of Mind-Pa

Yvonne Vissing, Author University Press of Kentucky $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8131-0872-8
In six years of research in New Hampshire, sociologist Vissing saw runaway teens, malnourished children, and upside-down family functioning in which child nurtures parent. Small-town homelessness, Vissing contends, is as bad as, and often worse than, urban. While the rural homeless ""live in chaos, out of the chaos there results an orderly existence."" Unfortunately, neither contention is well developed. Instead of a sharp focus, Vissing offers a sprawling literature review with snippets from her own findings woven throughout. Vissing prefers the terms housing distress and displacement to homelessness, and these bring within her purview not only people on the streets but families living in trailer parks and campgrounds, and those unfortunates doubling up with relatives. Interview quotes have the ring of truth, but jargon, overly elastic categories and subjective reporting muddy the discussion. Frequently, Vissing crosses the line from analyzing to sermonizing: ""Imagine how much better and more appropriate poor, distressed parents would be if they had the same resources as other parents!"" ""Many heroic students were interviewed."" However, she offers sensible advice to social workers and community activists, and the 679-item bibliography will give sociology students something to mull over. Photos by the author. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/20/1996
Release date: 05/01/1996
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