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Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2019

Page updated 25 January, 2019

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2019, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

CASE STUDY: Becoming a down-and-out (Robin Page 1971)

My experience as a down-and-out started in May 1971, when I was deposited by friends on the Brighton Road in Croydon. Apart from the clothes I stood up in, a pair of dirty jeans, a shirt with a frayed collar, a thin pullover and a donkey jacket, I had a small bag containing a spare shirt, jeans, jumper and socks, all very tattered; a rain hat and small cycle cape, an old sleeping bag and a water container. I had just 20p in my pocket. With four days stubble on my chin I looked scruffy, and felt scruffier, and already respectable middle-class women out shopping were giving me disapproving sidelong glances as I passed them. However, the strange affinity that seems to bind down-and-outs together was quick to show itself, for as I passed a bus shelter containing two long-coated, red-faced cider drinkers, they smiled friendly alcoholic smiles at me, which seemed to indicate that I was already accepted as one of their own kind....

At Brighton, I made for the beach which was to become my home. Down on the pebbles midway between the two piers was a group of dossers about twenty strong, mostly young, some genuinely down-and-out, while others were hippies. I was accepted as one of the group straight away with no problems. One long-haired youth, wearing red corduroy trousers and a combat jacket asked me if I was 'dossing' and invited me to make myself at home.

Adapted from Page (1971. p. 9–12) ), p. 13).


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