Use of information and communication technology among street drifters in Los Angeles

Xinning Gui, Julien Forbat, Bonnie Nardi, Dan Stokols


We report a qualitative study of ICT (information and communication technology) use among a group of homeless people on Skid Row, Los Angeles. Participants in our ethnographic study frequently used mobile phones and computers, but not for the purposes documented in other studies such as managing friendships, enlisting family support, finding housing, and seeking employment. They were instead seeking respite to escape their stressful daily lives. We argue that urban communities should adopt a multi-agency approach and provide support centers offering homeless people access to computers and Wi-Fi. Increased access to ICT would both facilitate homeless people’s capability to cope with their difficult environment.


Homeless;Street Drifters;Skid Row;Information and Communication Technologies;

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