Routes into Destitution: Identifying vulnerabilities and coping strategies in the life course of undocumented Central and Eastern European citizens in Switzerland

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DOI der Originalpublikation
angewandte Forschung
In Switzerland, there is a growing number of destitute mobile Central and Eastern European citizens relying on homelessness care. The research project aims at scrutinizing the available social, financial, physical and human resources and revealing social coping strategies of destitute CEE migrants in two Swiss cities: Geneva and Zürich. Doing so, we analyse vulnerability through the life course of destitute CEE from the interdisciplinary viewpoints of social geography (geographic migration and its effect on vulnerability), sociology (social networks and social status), social work (lifeworld and coping strategies) as well as social policy and social rights (institutional resources and their availability).
Während FHNW Zugehörigkeit erstellt
Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit
Institut Sozialplanung, Organisationaler Wandel und Stadtentwicklung
Finanziert durch
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF)
Eötvös Loránd University Budapest (external partner)
Finanziert durch
SAP Referenz
social resources
life course
life trajectory
Central and Eastern Europe
Fachgebiet (DDC)
Homelessness and mental disorders. An international overview
(10.12.2021) Temesvary, Zsolt [in: Szociálpolitikai Tükör / Hungarian Journal of Social Policy]
This paper provides a short overview on the relationship between homelessness and mental disorders, based on the relevant scientific literature and other references like research reports, online databases and working papers. While early studies explained homelessness with the lack of housing possibilities and problems in the housing markets, modern examinations also consider individual reasons, primarily the personal vulnerability of homeless people. According to these analyses, one of the most important reasons behind homelessness is the evolvement of psychiatric disorders which lead to severe mental and social distortions in the normal functioning of the affected people. Based on international studies, approximately three-fourth of the homeless people suffer from mental disorders, which proportion is much higher compared to the majority society, and at least 25% of all housing losses can be traced back to psychiatric problems.
01A - Beitrag in wissenschaftlicher Zeitschrift
Conceptualising destitution. Theoretical understanding and practical relevance
(22.12.2021) Temesvary, Zsolt; Roduit, Sabrina; Drilling, Matthias [in: Párbeszéd / Dialog]
This paper analyses destitution as a new and expressive notion in describing the multifaceted nature of essential poverty and severe social exclusion. The novel concept of destitution emerged in the social sciences to challenge the dominant neoliberal, income-based approach of poverty studies and to scrutinise poverty and social deprivation in a multi-layered dimension considering the lack of resources in the areas of the housing market, employment and family relationships, as well as in mental and physical health. Although destitution can also be described as the lack of individual biological and psychological resources, our paper primarily examines the socio-political, structural reasons lying behind the notion, focusing on two areas: social rights and entitlements for homeless people and undocumented migrants. Although the term ‘destitution’ incorporates multiple sociological, philosophical, economic and political dimensions, the current paper primarily applies the theoretical and practical approach of social work and social policy in conceptualising the notion.
01A - Beitrag in wissenschaftlicher Zeitschrift
Conceptualising destitution with focus on Central and Eastern European citizens living in Switzerland
(LIVES Swiss Centre of Expertise in Life Course Research, 10.03.2022) Temesvary, Zsolt; Roduit, Sabrina; Drilling, Matthias
Destitution can be understood as a severe form of systemic social deprivation in which people are unable to sustain themselves and their families through their own work activities because they encounter various administrative and legal obstacles. Destitute people are therefore excluded from most state-run social and medical services and their access to public resources and institutions is very limited. This new form of extreme poverty and social exclusion has posed several novel challenges to the Swiss welfare state, in which traditional, residence-based institutions are only moderately able to handle the issues. In the first chapter, we depict the theoretical development of destitution from the early studies on absolute poverty to the modern, multifaceted thinking on relative poverty and social exclusion. In this chapter we primarily focus on the vulnerable situation of undocumented migrants and homeless people to exemplify the most precarious forms of destitution in Western societies. In the second chapter, we scrutinise the precarious living circumstances of destitute European migrants both in their home countries and Switzerland. We explore the role of penalising social policies and the increasing social exclusion of the Roma and/or poor people in the CEE region. After that, we analyse their living conditions in Switzerland from the viewpoint of the availability and accessibility of social institutions. The chapter concludes that destitute CEE migrants encounter substantial difficulties in living in Switzerland, are invisible to the institutions of the Swiss welfare state, and their fundamental human rights are often questioned in the areas of housing, healthcare, and the labour market.
05 - Forschungs- oder Arbeitsbericht
Armutsreisende aus Osteuropa sind speziellen Risiken ausgesetzt
(Eidgenössische Migrationskommission, 2022) Temesvary, Zsolt [in: Terra Cognita]
Laut einer aktuellen Studie der Fachhochschule Nordwestscheiz FHNW kommt ein Viertel der in der Schweiz lebenden ausländischen obdachlosen Menschen aus Mittelosteuropa. Ohne Arbeits- und Mietvertrag haben die osteuropäischen Armutsreisenden keinen Anspruch auf eine schweizerische Aufenthaltsbewilligung, folglich werden sie von den meisten Sozialleistungen automatisch ausgeschlossen. Wegen mehrfacher Vulnerabilität erfahren diese Menschen in schweizerischen Städten oft Strassenobdachlosigkeit und absolute Armut.
01B - Beitrag in Magazin oder Zeitung