Shots Fired: Experiences of Gun Violence and Victimization in Toronto Social Housing

  • Author / Creator
    Berardi, Luca
  • In my dissertation, I examine how residents of a Toronto social housing project called Lawrence Heights – a de facto Canadian ghetto – manage the day-to-day realities of gun violence and victimization in their neighbourhood. Grounded in nearly 5-years of ethnographic fieldwork (including 75 formal interviews, hundreds of informal interviews, and thousands of pages of ethnographic field notes), my project engages with literature on street knowledge, street codes, and victimization to explore how random and recurring gun violence affects the actions and perceptions of local residents. More specifically, it examines how young black men in Lawrence Heights – the exclusive targets of gun violence in this community – negotiate the social and spatial realities of danger and risk in their neighborhood, relying on what I call ‘neighbourhood wisdom’ (chapter 3), ‘the code of survival’ (chapter 4), and the ‘on point - slipping framework’ (chapter 5). Ultimately, my findings illustrate that despite living in a de facto ghetto characterized by concentrated poverty, lethal violence, and disorder, residents of this Toronto social housing project have found ways to allow social and community life to continue – adapting, in other words, to an otherwise paralyzing socio-spatial milieu. This dissertation sheds light on the lived experiences of one of Canada’s most marginalized populations, calling for more nuanced and ‘on the ground’ understandings of poverty, crime, and victimization in the Canadian context.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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