Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2012

Document Type




First Advisor

Angela Thieman-Dino, Ph.D.


This qualitative ethnographic study examines why Boulder’s homeless young adult community remain living on the streets for extended periods of time. I undertook this project because very few ethnographic studies have been conducted on homeless youth and young adult culture, and even less have been done under the field of anthropology. As a volunteer with this population, I was driven to research why such individuals in Boulder utilize services yet continue to live on the streets. Through a variety of interviews and participant observation, I unveiled several underlying themes. The majority of Boulder’s homeless youth share a history of trauma. With this shared background there is a sense of acceptance, belonging, and family that forms within the street community. Although street life is difficult, once an individual finds his/her place within the community, leaving the streets means leaving his/her family and home.