Biopower, Disciplinary Power and Surveillance: A Qualitative Analysis of the Lived Experience of Drug Users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
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Focusing on the role of police as primary actors in the arena of citizen safety, this thesis examines the effects of police practices on the daily lived experience of drug users accessing a Supervised Consumption Site within a community centre which I refer to as the Hawthorne Resource Centre. This site is located in the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood of Vancouver, Canada. Drawing on Foucauldian conceptualisations of power, the findings of this research suggest that modes of both biopower and disciplinary power are pervasively operative in various realms of the day to day lives of the Hawthorne Resource Centre clients. Evidence of the scalable nature of these modes of power are seen within the internal functioning of the Supervised Consumption Site, outside in the methods of community policing in the Downtown Eastside and in weekly police practices in Oppenheimer Park. As such, my study represents a multi-scalar assessment of how these Foucauldian power structures work at multiple levels and locations in the Downtown Eastside. Additionally, the trauma and stigma within the narratives provided by many of the Hawthorne Resource Centre clients suggests an appreciation by those clients of their lack of social and cultural capital. This understanding shapes how they navigate the distinctly bounded physical neighborhoods of Vancouver. Driven by the narratives of the Hawthorne Resource Centre clients, the findings of this research illustrate the importance of power relations within specific policy interventions and show that a better understanding of power in the context of interventions is crucial for policy-makers.
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Benjamin Scher (2020). Biopower, Disciplinary Power and Surveillance: A Qualitative Analysis of the Lived Experience of Drug Users in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15726