The links between begging and rough sleeping: A question of legitimacy?

Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Catherine Kennedy

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Begging is one of the most potent, and controversial, symbols of social exclusion in modern British society. This paper concentrates on the relationship between begging and rough sleeping. This focus was selected because moral debates concerning the 'legitimacy' of begging now seem inextricably bound up with the perceived accommo dation status of people begging as either 'roofless' or 'housed'. The paper draws upon a recent qualitative study in Glasgow and Edinburgh city centres which demonstrated a close relationship between begging and rough sleeping, and the complex needs and desperate circumstances of the people engaged in these activities. It challenges prevailing assumptions regarding the 'legitimacy' of begging arguing that, while begging appears to be largely confined to street homeless people in Glasgow and Edinburgh city centres, this does not undermine the moral imperative to meet the needs of the 'housed poor' who may beg elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-568
JournalHousing Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2001


  • begging
  • homelessness
  • rough sleeping
  • legitimacy

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