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"La répression, ça finit par donner des résultats" : The displacement and erasure of street culture in downtown Montréal 1995-2010


"La répression, ça finit par donner des résultats" : The displacement and erasure of street culture in downtown Montréal 1995-2010

Michaud O'Grady, Liam (2015) "La répression, ça finit par donner des résultats" : The displacement and erasure of street culture in downtown Montréal 1995-2010. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
Michaud OGrady_MA_F2015.pdf - Accepted Version


Between 1995 and 2010, drug users, sex workers and street involved people in downtown Montréal faced a period of significant structural and social change. This period of change was characterized notably by several distinct waves of police repression, significant municipal development and revitalization, as well as the closure and expropriation of a range of commercial and indoor spaces central to the organization and composition of street culture, including hotels, bars, rooming houses and peepshows. These structural shifts downtown resulted in the displacement and dispersal of street involved communities outside of the downtown core, and represented a profound reorganization of the social relations of street culture. This included the loss of informal supportive networks, the disintegration of pre-existing social bonds, and the undermining of certain social practice.

These structural shifts downtown also resulted in a reorganization of institutional relations between the Direction de santé publique, and streetwork practice in downtown Montréal, creating important implications for HIV and HCV prevention. The loss of contacts caused by the displacement process contributed to the rise of instrumentalism in streetwork practice, growing exigencies around statistical monitoring, and a progressive shift toward prise en charge approaches. These shifts confronted streetworkers both with pragmatic questions about the organization of their labour, as well as ethical questions about their relationship to street milieus, and streetwork practice in the context of a remade urban landscape.

Inspired by grounded theory method, this thesis employs semi-structured qualitative interviews with streetworkers employed between 1995 and 2010. This analysis describes how the displacement of street culture and the transformation of street-level social relations was achieved, and how this process was driven by specific institutional and social policy. It provides an assessment of the impacts and implications of displacement and social transformation on street involved communities, and on street level social relations. In the process, this analysis raises epistemological questions about how cultural erasure is achieved. It asks how specific notions of street culture as essentially disorganized enable certain kinds of interventions, and ultimately enable displacement. It also raises the question regarding the importance of daily social relations and social bonds of street culture in HIV and HCV prevention, as well as the role of community organizations and streetwork practice in the face of displacement and structural change.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Michaud O'Grady, Liam
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:14 September 2015
Thesis Supervisor(s):Namaste, Viviane and High, Steven and Kruzynski, Anna
ID Code:980475
Deposited By: LIAM O'GRADY
Deposited On:28 Oct 2015 14:39
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:51
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