Use of information and communication technology among street drifters in Los Angeles

  • Xinning Gui Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine
  • Julien Forbat School of Social Ecology University of California, Irvine
  • Bonnie Nardi Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine
  • Dan Stokols School of Social Ecology University of California, Irvine
Keywords: Homeless, Street Drifters, Skid Row, Information and Communication Technologies,

Abstract

We report a qualitative study of ICT (information and communication technology) use among a group of homeless people on Skid Row, Los Angeles. Participants in our ethnographic study frequently used mobile phones and computers, but not for the purposes documented in other studies such as managing friendships, enlisting family support, finding housing, and seeking employment. They were instead seeking respite to escape their stressful daily lives. We argue that urban communities should adopt a multi-agency approach and provide support centers offering homeless people access to computers and Wi-Fi. Increased access to ICT would both facilitate homeless people’s capability to cope with their difficult environment.

Author Biographies

Xinning Gui, Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine

Xinning Gui is a Ph.D. candidate from the Department of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. She studies the use of technologies for sustainability and health.

Julien Forbat, School of Social Ecology University of California, Irvine

Julien Forbat obtained his PhD at the University of Geneva, studying environmental health policies in Europe. He is now a visiting scholar in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. He studies environmental health policies, as well as inter- and transdisciplinary issues.

Bonnie Nardi, Department of Informatics University of California, Irvine

Bonnie Nardi is Professor in the Department of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. She has a forthcoming book, co-authored with Professor Hamid Ekbia at Indiana University, Heteromation and Other Stories of Computing and Capitalism (MIT Press).

Dan Stokols, School of Social Ecology University of California, Irvine

Dan Stokols is Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus in Psychology and Social Behavior and Planning, Policy, and Design at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Stokols served as Director and founding Dean of the School of Social Ecology at UC Irvine between 1988-98. He is co-author of Behavior, Health, and Environmental Stress (1986), the National Academy of Sciences report on Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science (2015), and co-editor of the Handbook of Environmental Psychology (1987), Environmental Simulation (1993) and Promoting Human Wellness (2002).  

Published
2016-08-24
How to Cite
Gui, X., Forbat, J., Nardi, B., & Stokols, D. (2016). Use of information and communication technology among street drifters in Los Angeles. First Monday, 21(9). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i9.6813