Social capital and women's narratives of homelessness and multiple exclusion in northern England

Int J Equity Health. 2023 Mar 9;22(1):41. doi: 10.1186/s12939-023-01846-1.


Women experiencing three or more co-occurring issues (homelessness, substance misuse, mental health) are a highly vulnerable population associated with multimorbidity. Taking women's life stories of trajectories into social exclusion in the north of England as its focus, this paper aims to explore the complexity of social contexts in which women navigate extreme health inequalities. Of the few studies that have examined women's experiences of homelessness through the lens of social capital, most have focused on network size, rather than the quality and influence of the relationships which precipitate or contextualise experiences of social exclusion. We utilise case studies to offer a theoretically-grounded analysis which illustrates the relationship between social capital and homelessness within this population. Our results illustrate how structural contexts, and specifically social capital accrual and social bonding processes particularly pertinent to women can act to both ameliorate and perpetuate social exclusion. We conclude by arguing that health inequalities cannot be tackled as single-issue processes but instead are multi-layered and complex.

Keywords: Homelessness; Social capital; Social exclusion; Women.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Social Capital*
  • Social Environment
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Problems