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Governing Incivility: An Ethnographic Account of Municipal Law Enforcement, Urban Renewal and Neighbourhood Conflict in the City of Hamilton

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Title: Governing Incivility: An Ethnographic Account of Municipal Law Enforcement, Urban Renewal and Neighbourhood Conflict in the City of Hamilton
Author: Sommers, Rory
Department: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Program: Sociology
Advisor: O'Grady, Bill
Abstract: This dissertation offers a detailed ethnographic account of municipal law enforcement in the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Based on data collected from over 600 hours of ethnographic observations (ride-alongs) with 18 different municipal law enforcement officers and 20 semi-structured interviews conducted with city planners and municipal law officials, this study explores the inconsistencies between how municipal law enforcement is prioritized and how such enforcement plays out throughout Hamilton’s socio-economically diverse neighbourhoods. This dissertation will therefore argue that despite the presence of a neoliberal redevelopment agenda outlined in City documents, discussed by planners and some municipal law officials as well as clearly visible in the privately funded development projects restructuring Hamilton’s downtown, most municipal law enforcement is reactive, serving the function of managing neighbourhood conflicts rather than addressing the physical aesthetics and perceptions of safety in the downtown core that are in keeping with neoliberal economic agendas. As part of this argument, this research demonstrates how while the law itself is not irrelevant, the investigation of local disputes often expose tensions that extend far beyond the scope of municipal law. This study will conclude by exploring how the enforcement of some laws, although carried out in the name of health and safety, can and do have serious social implications for those living on the margins. This discussion will occur within a broader context where it will be argued that as the physical and social landscape of Hamilton continues to change, planning and municipal law officials as well as officers must remain aware of the potential detrimental effects that the enforcement of some municipal laws can have on certain sectors of the City’s population.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/10088
Date: 2016-11
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada