“This is My Community”: Reproducing and Resisting Boundaries of Exclusion in Contested Public Spaces
- 1.4k Downloads
The way that public space is structured has significant implications for identity, social interaction, and participation in society. For those experiencing homelessness, with no or limited private space, survival hinges on the accessibility and livability of public space. However, the increasing privatization of public space in the United States has contributed to the implementation of anti-homeless ordinances in cities, restricting sitting, standing, panhandling, and sleeping in public. This study analyzes data from interviews with housed and unhoused community members, text from a local policy document, and ethnographic observations to explore how boundaries between “insiders” and “outsiders” are drawn in public space and mediated through individual discourse. Our findings suggest that boundaries of exclusion are constructed through dominant narratives that portray the unhoused as a threat to safety and economic vitality, thus justifying the need for regulation and punishment through the criminalization of homelessness. Yet, informants also demonstrate resistance to this narrative by discussing how criminalization of homelessness perpetuates dehumanization, violence, and economic inequality. Policy implications for the regulation of public space are discussed.
KeywordsHomelessness Public space Narrative Policy Discourse Moral exclusion
The work presented here was supported by funding from the Psychology Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. We wish to acknowledge the community members who graciously shared their time and stories with us and the field sites that supported our work. We thank Heather Bullock, Mary Beth Pudup, Miriam Greenberg, Andrew Pilecki, Anjali Dutt, Brandon Balzer-Carr, Harmony Reppond, Leifa Mayers, Robyn Goldberg, Christine Brown, Rachel Beyer, Tajalei Willard, and Tamar Bezjian for their suggestions and contributions to this project. We also thank Jacob Tebes and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on earlier versions of this article.
- Ammann, J. J. (2000). Addressing quality of life crimes in our cities: Criminalization, community courts and community compassion. St. Louis University Law Journal, 44(3), 811–820.Google Scholar
- Amster, R. (2003). Patterns of exclusion: Sanitizing space, criminalizing homelessness. Social Justice, 30(1), 195–221.Google Scholar
- Applied Survey Research. (2013). 2013 Santa Cruz County homeless point-in-time census & survey: Comprehensive report. Retrieved from http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5176dcd7e4b0e5c0dba41ee0/t/53ee6197e4b08be4e39a873b/1408131479031/Santa+Cruz+Comprehensive+Report+-+2013.pdf.
- Autor, D. (2011). The polarization of job opportunities in the U.S. labor market: Implications for employment and earnings. Community Investments, 23(2), 11–41.Google Scholar
- Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
- Barnes, R. K. (2000). Losing ground: Locational formulations in argumentation over new travellers. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Plymouth University; Plymouth, UK.Google Scholar
- Bruner, J. S. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Bullock, H. E. (2008). Justifying inequality: A social psychological analysis of beliefs about poverty and the poor. In A. C. Lin & D. R. Harris (Eds.), The colors of poverty: Why racial and ethnic disparities persist (pp. 52–76). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Bullock, H. E. (2014). Social barriers to poverty reduction. In United Nations Development Programme, Barriers to and opportunities for poverty reduction: Prospects for private sector-led interventions (pp. 135–160). Retrieved from http://www.undp.org/content/dam/istanbul/docs/2014_Barriers_to_and_Prospects_for_Poverty_Reduction.pdf.
- Bullock, H. E., & Reppond, H. A. (in press). Of “takers” and “makers:” A social psychological analysis of class and classism. In P.L. Hammack (Ed.), Oxford handbook of social psychology and social justice. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
- City of Santa Cruz. (2013, December 3). City Council agenda: Study session. Retrieved from http://scsire.cityofsantacruz.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=538&doctype=AGENDA.
- Code Publishing Company. (2014). Santa Cruz Municipal Code. Retrieved from http://www.codepublishing.com/ca/santacruz/.
- Denzin, N. (1978). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Ferrell, J. (1997). Youth, crime, and cultural space. Social Justice, 24(4), 21–38.Google Scholar
- Gendron, R., & Domhoff, G. W. (2009). The leftmost city: Power and progressive politics in Santa Cruz. Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
- Hammack, P. L. (2014). Mind, story, society: The political psychology of narrative. In M. Hanne, W. Crano, & J. S. Mio (Eds.), Warring with words: Narrative and metaphor in politics (pp. 51–77). New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Hammack, P. L., & Cohler, B. J. (2009). Narrative engagement and sexual identity: An interdisciplinary approach to the study of sexual lives. In P. L. Hammack & B. J. Cohler (Eds.), The story of sexual identity: Narrative perspectives on the gay and lesbian life course (pp. 3–22). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Harvey, D. (2008). The right to the city. New Left Review, 53, 23–40.Google Scholar
- Hochschild, J. L. (1995). Facing up to the American dream: Race, class and the soul of the nation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Krueger, A. (2012, January 12). The rise and consequence of inequality in the United States. Speech transcript retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/krueger_cap_speech_final_remarks.pdf.
- Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space (Vol. 30). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Lieblich, A., Tuval-Mashiach, R., & Zilber, T. (1998). Narrative research: Reading, analysis, and interpretation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Mitchell, D. (1995). The end of public space? People’s Park, definitions of the public, and democracy. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 85(1), 108–133.Google Scholar
- National Coalition for the Homeless (NHC). (2014, June). Vulnerable to hate: A survey of hate crimes & violence committed against the homeless in 2013. Retrieved from http://nationalhomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Hate-Crimes-2013-1.pdf.
- National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP). (2014). No safe place: The criminalization of homelessness in U.S. cities. Retrieved from http://www.nlchp.org/documents/No_Safe_Place.
- National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). (2014). Out of reach 2014: Twenty-five years later, the affordable housing crisis continues (pp. 1–241). Retrieved from http://nlihc.org/oor/2014.
- Onishi, N. (2013, March 24). Violence brings an identity crisis in a free-spirited California beach town. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/us/violence-spurs-identity-crisis-in-free-spirited-santa-cruz.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1.
- Pascale, C. M., & West, C. (1997). Social illusions: Responses to homelessness in Santa Cruz, California, 1989–1994. Perspectives on Social Problems, 9, 3–29.Google Scholar
- Public Safety Citizen Task Force. (2013, December). Research, findings and recommendations: Santa Cruz City Public Safety Citizen Task Force (pp. 1–47). Retrieved from http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/home/showdocument?id=35125.
- Reich, R. B. (2010). Aftershock: The next economy and America’s future. New York: Knopf Doubleday.Google Scholar
- Sleeper, A. (2014, January 14). Out in the cold. Good times. Retrieved from http://www.gtweekly.com/index.php/santa-cruz-news/santa-cruz-environmental-news/5336-out-in-the-cold.html.
- Stiglitz, J. E. (2012). The price of inequality: How today’s divided society endangers our future. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2011, July). Current statistics on the prevalence and characteristics of people experiencing homelessness in the United States. Retrieved from http://homeless.samhsa.gov/ResourceFiles/hrc_factsheet.pdf.
- United Nations Human Rights Committee. (2014, April 23). International covenant on civil and political rights: Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of the United States of America (p. 8). Retrieved from http://www.refworld.org/docid/5374afcd4.html.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (2013). The 2013 annual homeless assessment report (AHAR) to Congress: Point-in-time estimates of homelessness (pp. 1–58). Retrieved from https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/ahar-2013-part1.pdf.
- U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2013). Opening doors: Chronic homelessness. Retrieved from http://usich.gov/usich_resources/fact_sheets/opening_doors_chronic_homelessness/.
- Western Regional Advocacy Project. (2014, September 8). National civil rights outreach fact sheet. Retrieved from http://wraphome.org/images/stories/hbr/NationalCivilRightsFactSheetDecember2014.pdf.
- White, R. (1993). Youth and the conflict over urban space. Children’s Environments, 10(1), 85–93.Google Scholar
- Wright, T. (1997). Out of place: Homeless mobilizations, subcities, and contested landscapes. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar