"How Come This Man Is Homeless?" An Ethnographic Exploration of Identity Work among Volunteers in a Diner Serving to the Homeless

Hamarat M., Merzali Celikoglu Ö.

JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY ETHNOGRAPHY, vol.49, no.6, pp.777-805, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 49 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0891241620931917
  • Page Numbers: pp.777-805


In this study, we explore the identity work among volunteers in a local restaurant in one of the metropolitan cities of Turkey, which serves to paying customers by daytime, and free food to the homeless in the evening. Our setting, which we callThe Diner, is a local attempt to help homeless people whose number increases day by day. Through ethnographic fieldwork, we found that the volunteers at The Diner act asteamsbased on their selective association with a particular volunteer group. To gain an in-depth understanding of these volunteer teams, we examined the volunteers' identification process with volunteer work; structures and motivations of the teams; and collaborations and competitions between the teams. Our approach relies on Snow and Anderson's conception of identity work, and we utilized Goffman's terms of performance, teams, and definitional disruptions.