Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



Schmitz, Rachel M. 2013. "Tentative Transitions and Gendered Pathways: Exploring the Revolving Door of Young Adult Homelessness." University of Nebraska-Lincoln Master's Thesis.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Sociology, Under the Supervision of Professor Kimberly A. Tyler. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Rachel Marie Schmitz


The number of homeless young adults living in unstable conditions is a growing social problem. However, less is known about the multiple transitions young people experience as they enter into street life and how these pathways differ for males and females. While some young people may run away from home never to return, others may move between housed environments and homelessness, creating a revolving door effect. The homeless experience for young adults can also potentially lead to developmental problems in later life such as the lack of stable employment due to criminal activity and an overall cycle of homelessness that is difficult to escape. As such, this study explores the unique, gendered pathways young people experience as they exit their homes using qualitative interviews with 40 homeless young adults (16 males; 24 females) 19 to 21 years of age. Narrative analysis is used to illustrate the incremental process of youths’ exits from their homes as well as a focus on specific events that shape a young person’s life. The overarching theme of the revolving door also includes processes of early adultification and rejection from one’s family of origin. All of the themes are further elaborated using a gendered lens to examine how young men and women experience differential pathways into homelessness, which will allow researchers to expound on the gendered components of this at-risk population.