Searching for life conditions and self

Anelė Vosyliūtė


The article represents problems related to the different issues of the life of the poor. The authoress reveals the features of vagabond subculture, the situation of the beggars and poor in the traditional Lithuanian culture and in the modern social structure, their relations with more succesfull strata of society. In the research some scientific approaches are outlined: interpretation, phenomenological, existential, the concept of subjectivity.
Some features of poor people‘s life condition (food, shelter), their identification with different places are investigated. The space is always socially reconstructed; as D. Massey noted, places have multiple identities. The poor people are connected with places physically or in memory and imagination. Places are constructed out of a particular constellation of relations articulated together at a particular locus, particular interactions and mutual articulations of social relations, social processes, experiences and unterstandings. Many of poor people are homeless; the home as a site of everyday, ‘magical’ and tactile resource for the making of identity for them is not existing. Their small communities use to construct some social networks, which help to cope with their troublesome social practices.
The consumption of poor is very bad; they speak of being hungry, weak, sick, exhausted, in pain or mentally distressed. Many women life stories are related with consumption events, specially with the consumption of alcohol of their husbands and sons. Mental health problems – stress, anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem - are among the more commonly identified effects of poverty and illbeing by poor. Because they are „others–, they are feeling distinct from the normal society; their self-definition is grounded on their conduct, individual experience as ‘bomza’, unlucky, miserable, victim, unfortunate. Some time they are associated with aggresivness and violence. The author is analysing the philosophical understanding of poverty by A. Maceina, the attitude to the poor people as immoral by Ortega I Gaset. From the other side, in the mode of life of marginal people our society can see their endeavour to be free, the will to live selfsustaining.
Marginal peoples keep themselves at some distance from society; most of them are in a conflict with society and their family members. After the social and economic changes of postsocialistic society they are in social exclusion, unable to adapt to new social situation. Their social world and individual self-images are submitted for consideration; they are missing material resources for subsistance, are unemployed and dossers or homeless. In the consciousness of marginal people such a feeling as learned helplessness is seatled; their communication is not intensive, their life is similar to isolation. They are living on charity, which (f. e. poorhouses) is the characteristic tradition in the country since the year dot. The poor are as collectors of food and things from the rubbish heap and dustbins in the town. So the marginals are participating in the creation for the market of the second-hand things and clothing.
The process of marginalization experienced by the poor is connected mostly with negative selfevaluation and negative feelings, with meanings of anxiety, shame before the other members of community.
It is actual to involve the poor to different social activities, to social contacts. The possession of more social capital (measured by social participation, interpersonal trust, close personal ties and happiness) can make their life more succesfull.


the place and signs of marginals in the social structure; existencial concept; forms of charity; method of life histories

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789