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Homeless and policed: The racialized policing of homelessness, space, and mobility in Edmonton

  • Author / Creator
    Freistadt, Joshua E
  • The City of Edmonton recently developed an anti-panhandling bylaw and a diverted giving campaign. Previous literature on the policing of homelessness has focused on the development and discourses of these measures. Using 22 interviews with homeless adults, I examine how homeless persons experience policing. I argue that Edmonton’s anti-panhandling efforts hold problematic assumptions about street life and contribute to a racialized policing of homelessness, space, and mobility. My findings contribute to previous literature by documenting how the policing of homelessness unfolds on the ground, the politics behind it, and the ways it intersects with racial identity. I show that the policing of homelessness targets all visibly homeless persons who stand out in prime consumer spaces, attempts to displace these homeless persons into marginalized spaces, and in so doing produces spaces and patterns of mobility that disadvantage homeless Aboriginals. I discuss how this displacement benefits businesses, perpetuates policing, and maintains racial hierarchies. My analyses contrast the stories of homeless persons with existing arguments about the policing of homelessness. I reject the claims of broken windows sympathizers, dispute the argument that anti-homeless efforts attempt to produce proletarians, refine arguments that the policing of homelessness removes the poor from consumer spaces, reorient the position that urban policing maintains pedestrian flow, and extend discussions of racialized policing. I conclude that attempts to challenge the policing of homelessness must address the diverse and racialized ways it unfolds.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2014-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3C971
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. 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.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Sociology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Hogeveen, Bryan (Sociology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Pavlich, George (Sociology)
    • Grekul, Jana (Sociology)
    • Renke, Wayne (Law)
    • Doyle, Aaron (Sociology)