University of California, Berkeley
Department of Sociology
My dissertation, Cruel Streets: Criminalizing Homelessness in San Francisco, examines the causes, practices, and consequences of criminalizing homelessness in the contemporary metropolis. Through ethnographic observations both embedded in encampments and with the city bureaucrats that manage homelessness along with archival and policy analysis, the dissertation provides a panoramic and relational account of the political, economic, and cultural forces behind the passage of anti-homeless laws, their enforcement, and impact on homelessness, poverty, and the city.
Managing Marginality: Homeless Seclusion and Survival is an ethnography of the three signature institutions governing homelessness in the US metropolis: the streets, shelters, and homeless housing programs. Combining ethnographic observations of living alongside those experiencing homelessness and working with bureaucrats, activists, and service providers addressing homelessness the project traces how homelessness is struggled over as a governable social problem and the implications this has for different factions of the unhoused.
Since the turn of the 21st century several US cities have witnessed the resurgence of large-scale homeless encampments. This page includes research papers, essays, and reports explaining why such encampments emerge, how they evolve, and why some are evicted and other legalized. Drawing on interviews and observations in 12 encampments in eight municipalities, these papers demonstrate how large-scale encampments paradoxically serve as both tools of containing homeless populations for the local state and preferred safe grounds for those experiencing homelessness.
Under Professor Sandra Smith, I'm managing a survey and interview study exploring the impacts of Fair Chance Policies like Ban the Box on the perceptions and experiences of those formerly incarcerated.
This community-based study documents and analyzes the impacts of the rising tide of anti-homeless laws in an era of mass incarceration on those experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. In collaboration with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, and Dilara Yarbrough of SF State we draw on findings from a citywide survey of 351 homeless individuals and 43 in-depth interviews.
In 2018, A ballot proposition to tax .5 percent on annual gross receipts over $50 million with funds earmarked toward helping the homeless passed with 60% of the popular vote in San Francisco. This amounts to more than $300 million additional funds to end homelessness in San Francisco. To guide the spending of this new funding, the Our City Our Home Coalition funded a community-based study to assess the needs of homeless individuals regarding homelessness prevention, shelter, mental health services, and substance use treatment
After the flooding of New Orleans pre-existing inequalities of class, neighborhood, and race were exacerbated due to an uneven recovery. These sets of writings argue that at the heart of this uneven recovery is housing and uncovers the various ways local, state, and federal urban policies privileged homeowners at the expense of renters.
Chris Herring is a doctoral candidate of Sociology at the University of California Berkeley, where he's affiliated with the Global Metropolitan Studies Program and Center for Ethnographic Research and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Poverty, Urban Sociology, Social Theory, Qualitative Methods, and Pedagogy.
His research focuses on poverty, housing, and homelessness in US cities. Chris’ work has been published or is forthcoming in academic journals including the American Sociological Review, Social Problems, City and Community, City, Teaching Sociology and book chapters in edited volumes of Anthropology, Urban Studies, Social Movements, Geography, and Community-based Research. His writing has also appeared in Places, Progressive Planning, Shelterforce, the Berkeley Journal of Sociology, and several homeless street newspapers across the US and Canada.
His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Center for Engaged Scholarship, the Berkeley Law School's Human Rights Center, the Empirical Legal Studies Workshop at the Center for the Study of Law and Society, the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, and the Horowitz Foundation.
Chris' research, writing, and teaching embraces the ideals of public sociology. He has collaborated on three major studies and publications with the National Coalition on Homelessness and San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, the latter where he continues to organize as a member of their Human Rights Workgroup. He has also collaborated on research with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, the Western Regional Advocacy Project, and ACORN. Chris regularly consults with think-tanks, county governments, and legal aid groups. He is an editor and co-founder of the new Berkeley Journal of Sociology: an online-first graduate run publication of public scholarship aimed at broadening the interpretive range and prospective application of social research to political struggles, emerging cultural trends, and alternative futures.
Before coming to Berkeley, Chris completed an MA in Social Anthropology at Central European University, Budapest, Hungary (2010) and a BA in Economics from Bard College (2008). He also worked as a Project Manager in New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.