Someone else's home: couch surfing as marginalisation in the experiences of early home leavers

Pauline Joy McLoughlin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    In Australia, couch surfing is a common experience in the housing biographies of early home leavers, who do not have access to the benefits of support from caregivers. Lacking access to desirable or appropriate tenure choices, couch surfers move frequently between a series of tenuous living arrangements with local households. Whilst they are exercising their own agency in (re)negotiating shelter, many couch surfers also find themselves depending precariously on these households to avoid sleeping rough. Based on original doctoral research carried out in South Australia, this paper reports the findings of a qualitative study exploring young Australians' experiences of couch surfing. The aim is to highlight the significant barriers to independence and tenure choices that impact the life chances of young people facing homelessness. It is argued that couch surfing situations draw young people into a fragile hospitality arrangement, which situates them as marginalised household guests. This tenuous position in the household perpetuates young people’s exclusion from secure housing, employment, education and a sense of home. Key contrasts are also drawn between the tenuousness shaping most accounts of couch surfing relationships, and the small number of supportive household relationships some young people experienced. In taking this approach, this paper indicates the structural and personal implications of young people’s delayed independence from the caregiver home, and the role of relationships with significant adults in mediating the impacts of dislocation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEuropean Network of Housing Researchers Conference 2012 Book of Abstracts
    Subtitle of host publicationHousing: Local Welfare and Local Markets in a Globalised World
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


    • Housing
    • Welfare implications
    • Homelessness
    • Youth transitions


    Dive into the research topics of 'Someone else's home: couch surfing as marginalisation in the experiences of early home leavers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this