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A Narrative Inquiry into the Experiences of People who are Homeless in Japan Open Access


Other title
Narrative inquiry
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kubota, Hiroko
Supervisor and department
Caine, Vera (Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Gary, Harfitt (Education)
Kohlen, Helen (Social Policy, Ethics, Nursing Science)
Shultz, Lynette (Educational Policy Studies)
Richter, Solina (Nursing)
Clandinin, D. Jean (Education)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In this paper based dissertation, experiences of people who are/were homeless in Japan were explored using narrative inquiry. Treating narratives as storied phenomena under study, narrative inquiry is considered both as a research methodology and as a way of understanding human experiences (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Through engaging in weekly face-to-face conversations over three months in Japan, the participants and I slowly co-created a relational space where we traveled to each other’s worlds (Lugones, 1987), and co-composed stories of us and our relationship. As we lived in the midst of our lives and in our relationship, our stories intersected and interacted by shaping ways to inquire into experiences. Drawing on the life stories of three participants whose name are Yoshi, Apapane, and Ama, the complexity and the multiplicity entailed within their experiences of being homeless in Japan were revealed. Their experiences of being homeless in Japan bring forward important insights into resistance to the dominant narratives about homelessness in Japan. Their stories also call forth attentiveness to their untold sufferings caught by difficulties of living on the streets, and to their strength and generosity they have nourished amidst their experiences of being homeless. Their bodies, which appear in public places can be further understood as a political stance to articulate their lives to others and summon up human connectedness underpinned by caring and respectful recognitions. This study involves multi-layered considerations of homelessness in Japan, while I keep in mind the relational ways of living with the stories of Yoshi, Apapane, and Ama. From a methodological point of view, I inquired into my role as a researcher in relation to Yoshi, Ama, and Apapane to explore relational ethics in narrative inquiry. Through retelling and reflecting on the stories they shared in our conversations, I identified four narrative threads that illuminate both the diversity of their experiences and the links that weave through their experiences. From a philosophical point of view, I engaged in thinking about the implications of the body of people who are homeless in Japan as a political stance to bring about changes in recognition and to reconsider the concepts of human right and citizenship. Attending closely to their lives, their stories did not only invite me to understand their experiences, but also to inquire into my experiences of working as a nurse in Japan and of coming to Canada. This dissertation closed with implications for advancing nursing knowledge and practice, and an encouragement to work towards an equitable society and ethical attitudes of care.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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