Misinformation about homelessness abounds—what causes it, what perpetuates it and how to solve it, says Debra Schleef, professor of sociology at the University of Mary Washington. Learning the truths about homelessness can change the way we think about these vulnerable people, she says.
Schleef will share her research about homelessness on the radio program With Good Reason March 18-24. Titled “Working Class Histories,” the show takes a look at tough challenges facing members of the American working class.
Schleef recently collaborated with a consortium of social service agencies to survey Fredericksburg area residents about the homeless. She says public perception depends on demographics, social status, religious and political beliefs. But personal interaction with the homeless goes a long way to color their attitudes.
“The more people are exposed to the homeless, the more positive the perception,” says Schleef, who is an authoritative source on race, class and gender as well as the sociology of occupations and professions, socialization and elites.
A member of the UMW faculty since 1999, Schleef is the recipient of the J. Christopher Bill Outstanding Faculty Service Award for her contributions to the University as well as her involvement and leadership in the community. She also serves as UMW’s interim assistant provost for assessment.
Schleef has a master’s degree and a doctorate in sociology from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her recent research focuses on the composition of the Hispanic community in the greater “New South,” including demographic trends, the impact of immigration on the area and Latino efforts to adapt to their new home.
In July 2016, she conducted field research on several intentional communities in Germany, and gave a lecture in German on issues that are of concern to communes and ecovillages in the U.S. to an audience at Kommune Niederkaufungen.
Schleef is co-author, with H.B. Cavalcanti, of Latinos in Dixie: Class and Assimilation in Richmond, Virginia (2009).
With Good Reason is a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The show airs weekly in Fredericksburg on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. on Radio IQ 88.3 Digital. To listen from outside the Fredericksburg area, a complete list of air times and links to corresponding radio stations can be found at http://www.withgoodreasonradio.org/when-to-listen/.
Audio files of the full program and its companion news feature will be posted the week of the show on the radio show’s website: http://withgoodreasonradio.org/episode/the-glass-ceiling-in-the-ivory-tower/.