Social Spatialization in a Community Dental Clinic Space: A critical ethnographic exploration

  • Author / Creator
    Arntson, Cheryl
  • Background: Inequitable access to oral health and dental services has become a policy priority. Meso-level policy interventions, such as creating inclusive spaces in settings intending to provide care to marginalized communities, are identified as an area requiring study. Researchers in other disciplines have explored the relationship between healthcare spaces and patients. Their findings demonstrate the impact of material objects and care environments on how and to whom care is delivered. Research about dental care spaces is limited, and non-profit or community- based dental spaces intending to serve marginalized communities have not been considered.
    Drawing on Shields’ concept of spatialization, this thesis explores the practices, discourses and lived experience of an inner-city non-profit community dental clinic space.
    Purpose: This dissertation explored a non-profit, community dental clinic’s architecture and design as a physical structure and a social spatialization. The researcher explores how decisionmakers and individuals involved in the planning and design of the facility understood the clinic’s target patient group, considerations in creating the clinic and the social spatialization of the dental clinic space.
    Methods: The dissertation consists of two related chapters: (1) an exploration of how the patient population of the community dental clinic was defined and described by key decisionmakers and clinical staff; (2) an exploration of the community dental clinic (CDC) space, the discourse about the clinic, and research observations and reflections about the lived experience within the space.
    Results: Two key decision-making groups involved in the planning and design of the CDC measured, defined and perceived the clinic’s target patient group differently. Two patient groups emerged from the data: one described favourably and one negatively. An exploration of the CDC space through the framework of Shields’ concept of spatialization reveals that practices, architectural features, and perceptions of bodies and behaviours are reflected in the clinic space. This spatialization reflects a moral panic about potential destructive or harmful behaviours of the latter patient group that is used to justify the monitoring and surveillance of their behaviours (a form of policing) and serve to maintain a clean, hygienic environment. As bodies move through the clinic space, they are subjected to various forms of sorting and categorizing intended to weed out some bodies and behaviours from the clinic.
    Conclusion: The critical exploration of a community dental clinic (CDC) space reveals the impact of societal beliefs, professional practices, and subaltern identities in the quest to create inclusive oral health care spaces. Findings from this thesis expand on current literature regarding how patient populations are defined, reveal assumptions about these groups and how current dental environments may reflect societal and professional biases. This study develops a foundation for understanding the impact of dental care spaces on care provision and to whom.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • 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.