Skip to content

Moral Agency in Homeless Engagement

April 1, 2022

Presented by Matthew McCoy, PhD

This training draws from anthropological theory and methods to inform a recovery-oriented approach for clients experiencing homelessness. We define important aspects of moral agency (e.g., autobiographical power, peopled opportunities, social bases of self-respect) that matter for both homeless outreach specialists and for the clients they serve. Using ethnographic data, this training discusses how moral agency is built and practiced in different contexts. Focusing on 4 different contexts of homeless engagement across North America (i.e., Los Angeles, Bay Area, Montreal, Houston), this presentation shows how different homeless service providers set different expectations for clients to prove themselves “worthy” of care. For each context, we show how people become moral agents and how important moral agency can be for building recovery and transformation. By recognizing how moral agency is defined and practiced in various settings, this training will help homeless outreach specialists and other service providers reflect on the moral aspects of their work, the importance of building agency and community, and how outreach practices can enact a person-centered model of care.


Listen on:  Apple Podcasts  |  Spotify 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call:

National Disaster Distress Helpline:
In distress because of a natural or human-caused disaster?
Call for immediate counseling 24/7 at
1-800-985-5990 Or text TalkWithUs to 66746
(English/Spanish 24/7)

Back To Top