Misery Loves Company: But Who is Misery’s Company?

Kelly Cunningham



Homelessness is often romanticized. Homeless people are frequently understood as being a collective group of individuals who, because of their shared unfortunate circumstances, relate and connect with one another. I argue that this perception of homelessness, which in essence follows the old adage "misery loves company," incorrectly assumes that community exists among those who share similar pain and experiences, that mere physical presence of other homeless people consequently establishes feelings of belonging. Through this research, I reveal that relationships manifest among the downtown homeless population in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in very unique ways. The relationships do not emerge as a result of proximity but rather as a function of the particular needs of the individuals. The purpose of this research is to encourage a deeper understanding of the diverse lived experiences of community and sense of belonging among those who are homeless. In order for this deeper understanding to occur, it is important that we suspend judgments and preconceived notions. Instead, we must open ourselves up to the lives that are discussed in this research and read with boldness and courage to foster our own empathic capacity.


belonging; community; homelessness in Victoria; empathic capacity

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18357/tar2120119059

Copyright (c) 2011 Kelly Cunningham


This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 Unported License.


ISSN 1923-1334 (Online)

University of Victoria