Homeless people and their effect on society

1742 words (7 pages) Essay in Sociology

14/11/16 Sociology Reference this

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“Homeless People and Their Effects on the Society”


At the first glance of the image one automatically focuses on the homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk, the man’s bed is a bunch of old newspapers and all of his belongings lay beside him in an old knapsack, a girl is passing by him apparently without paying any heed to the man’s sorry state. The image is very powerful. The sole reason behind selecting this image is the factor that it speaks to the audience, although a very simple image without any color and not much is going on in it, yet it has quite a deep meaning attached to it as it very simply attempts to shed some light on the different living conditions of the members of a same species. The road where cars are passing by, and ironically a luxury sedan is parked next to where the man is sleeping, on the other side a girl is walking past the sleeping man. The man sleeps on the ground completely aloof from the world, but sadly the aloofness is mutual as no one apparently seems to care about the homeless man. This concept in psychology is termed as the ‘bystander effect. The term Bystander effect denotes the scenario where an individual is less likely to help another one in distress in the presence of others than when he is alone.

This is only one aspect of looking at the picture. There is more to it than meets the eye not only does this image very powerfully yet simply describe the bystander effect but it also brings to light the social problems such as the growing gap between social classes where the rich tend to get richer and the poor, well …poorer furthermore describing the decreasing compassion in the contemporary social system. The image looks very ordinary and without any violent or explicit imagery, the fact that it seems too ordinary to us is the fact that we take such things for granted and most of us would pass by a homeless man on the sidewalk without even noticing him. As we see others not helping him we automatically assume that this is not something important. An image of a girl walking by a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk is a very powerful and an almost epistolary description, strongly contradicting the concept of social equality in the contemporary society. (Mario Luis Small, 2010)

Thesis Statement: The analysis shows the cause of the homeless people and what are the reason of their homeless, as well as the description of the image what the image depicts about the homeless man and the bystanders.


The homeless man is the subject of the image .The whole concept of this image seems to revolve around the homeless man who’s laying there on the sidewalk asleep. The picture would not have been descriptive of the social problems it currently describes if the homeless man was not sleeping on the sidewalk. Although all elements in the picture work together to complete it but the main focus is on the homeless man, in the current context the homeless man denotes the aspect of poverty in society and the gulf that exists between the social classes. Furthermore, the more obvious things it shows is the very low quality of life that he lives with ,owning a knapsack as his wardrobe and some old newspapers as his bed. The image has not been photographed merely for the purpose of photography, it rather focuses on deep social issues, some may deem it to be a purely political attempt to defame the society, but upon further research one finds that the social issues highlighted in the image do really exist and the majority may acknowledge their existence. The social system has been evolving since the dawn f humankind and what we see today is the result of thousands of years of evolutionary progress. Sadly somewhere along the lines the human race derailed itself from the lines of progress. (Bri Trypuc, 2009)

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When the concept of personal greed and gain set in and the lust for material goals and worldly power gained firmed grounds in the evolving human psychology, it turned man into a savage with the compassion fading away. The image focuses exactly on that, where a luxury sedan worth more than an average man’s annual income is parked next to a man who only has a knapsack and some clothes to his name and he is unsure of the fact that he will be able to find a meal that particular day or not. Now the sad part is that the rich or the “fortunate” don’t really care about the society or people around them as long as their own bellies are full. The photographer has tried to target a large audience as the picture has been seen floated on the internet .The larger the audience the larger the awareness of the message in the picture, The photographers approach and tone is very direct because there are no hidden clues in the image and the image very simply and directly touches the issue at hand. (Levine)

simple and direct approach appeals to a larger audience as people of all circles can easily comprehend the message that is being conveyed. The photographer intends to make the masses realize the social problems that they are apparently oblivious of. When people see and comprehend such a strong yet simple image it is expected to give rise to feelings compassion and helping each other among them. Some other effects that it could have on the audience is an indirect effect where one who has seen this image would cut down on their lavish expenses realizing the fact that there are people less fortunate than they are. It may also take an individual away from the greed of gaining more and more, making him realize that how much he already has. The photographer bases his photograph on the concept of the bystander effect, the fact that people are willing to move on without acknowledging another humans misfortune, and taking it as something which is very acceptable socially. This way it simply invites the audience to connect with the message that is being conveyed through the image. Or we can summarize it as Social problems in a nutshell or much rather an image. (Bachrach, 1970)


They usually affect the reasons why these people are in this situation breaks ties are of three types:

Breakdown of family and personal ties: Have no usual or not maintain any contact with their immediate and extended family relationship. It might be because of the death of one or else further members of a family, the distance between them, an obsession, sickness or bodily or cerebral disarray and so on. Breaking business tie, on the streets citizens are without a job or else does not encompass a stable job to provide them with a steady revenue, although most likely had it. A predictable 10% of this populace has even college. Breakdown of social ties, the homeless (before or after the way they are) may lose their friends or may be institutional constraints (legal or police problems). It can be a gradual process or a sudden break because their friends turn their back to not accept their situation.

In psychology frequently referred to these actions due to worrying life actions. These rupture be able to and are frequently characterize by three features: Are chained together, that is, one break a person life might lead to another break. One can take an example that if a person losses his or her job that can also lead to some loss on in the family due to the stress of losing the job and end up in fights and quarrels. They are shocking. Reason of a high psychological suffering in the person, thus that his determination might be weakened in such a way which is not inspiration to revisit to reconstruct their tie and escort a civilized life. In addition, the street life often aggravates apathy. They are sharp. The person may have lived there several large chains and a trauma away in time during their life, but probably one of the causes takes you directly to the street. That is, homelessness is not a thing that is deliberation, other than a quick way out to get gone from the pain or the only option after being evicted from their usual place of residence (Best, 1995)

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To conclude one must note that an image such as the one discussed above is a very effective and powerful tool to communicate to a larger audience without saying much. To be living in an era of prevailing social problems, these artistic yet informative images help in educating as well as shaping the public opinion. We’ve discussed one such image which focuses on social problems which are interrelated and commonly neglected. Starting from the bystander effect, it very successfully describes the concept as people pass by a man who is less fortunate than they are without even acknowledging his existence. Another inter-related problem it focuses on is the gulf between the different social classes which prevail in the contemporary times. With expensive cars and nicely clothed people in the same image as a man who’s sleeping on newspapers the photographer very simply yet effectively highlights this social problem. Furthermore another broader aspect of this picture is the loss of compassion in the social system today. Finally the photographer has quite impressively pulled off the feat of presenting several social problems in one simple black and white image.

Works Cited

Bachrach, P. B. (1970). Power and poverty : theory and practice . New York : Oxford University Press .

Best, J. (1995). Images of Issues Typifying Contemporary Socail Problems. New York: ALDINE DE GRUYTER.

Bri Trypuc, J. R. (2009). Homeless in Canada. Charity Intelligence Canada.

Levine, D. M. (n.d.). Rethinking Bystander Non-Intervention: Socail catogrisation and the evidence of witnesses at the James Bulger murder trail. Lancaster.

Mario Luis Small, D. J. (2010). Reconsiderin Cuture and Poverty.

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