The Usual Suspects and Invisible Victims: Exploring Homeless Youths’ Experiences with Policing in Ottawa

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MacDonald, Cora




This study prioritizes the experiences of homeless youth themselves, to examine how they make sense of and respond to policing in Ottawa. Using a phenomenological design, the study’s analysis is informed by focus groups and walking interviews conducted with homeless youth between 16 and 25 who utilize services at a drop-in-center in Ottawa. The analysis revealed two findings. First, young people felt paradoxically over-controlled and under-served in their encounters with police because of their intersecting identities as young and homeless in the city. Second, when responding to their encounters young people resisted and accepted the disciplinary and regulatory practices attached to policing in the city. To make sense of their responses I draw upon the concepts of subjective-reflexivity, affect and symbolic violence. This study adds knowledge to how young people make sense of and respond to policing in their everyday lives.


American Studies




Carleton University

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