‘Suit and tie’ by Susanne Hartfiel

January 6, 2012

Hartfiel, S. (2008). Suit & tie. The SRV Journal, 3(2), 26-37.

This article recounts a significant part of the life story of one significantly societally devalued person, a homeless alcoholic man, and provides an SRV-based analysis of lessons the author drew from reflecting on her relationship with him. Some Social Role Valorization themes discussed in this article include: the devastating impact of wounding; the power of expectations and how these are conveyed through personal appearance, physical environments and modeling; the importance of interpersonal identification in fostering positive relationships between valued and devalued people; the power of valued roles and valued people in serving as protection from many bad things in the face of heightened vulnerability; difficulties people may face when trying to leave their devalued identity and fill more valued roles.

People interested in Citizen Advocacy might find this article relevant, because it shows how unpaid personal relationships can be the means to higher expectations, valued opportunities and more valued social roles. It also illustrates how a group of people one might not have readily expected to be allies of a homeless person were able to bring at least some positive change and greater access to the ‘good things in life’ for this man’s, even saving his life during a critical time, while human service professionals who were paid to be of service to him were largely not. As much of the story takes place in and around a downtown church parish, it might also be of interest to people who are trying to find positive ways to integrate devalued people into their faith communities. Finally, the article draws upon some basic strategies of hospital protection which proved to be helpful in saving vulnerable people’s lives.


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