Spatial Justice

Public dissent and public homelessness in city streets

Justice in the Streets: Responses to Public Homelessness and Public Dissent

This project, supported by an ARC Discovery Grant 2021-2023, investigates spatial justice in contemporary cities.

City streets are sites of negotiation – and increasingly of struggle. This project studies the ways in which two uses of city streets, namely visible homelessness and political protest, are subject to intensifying regulatory control. Many activities associated with homelessness and with political protest fall outside categories of lawful behaviour. In Australia, an expanding population of individuals occupy and use city streets in these ways: on any given night 116,000 Australians are without stable housing and over 300,000 took part in the September 2019 climate strikes. Regulatory responses include criminalisation of previously lawful behaviour and the exclusion of individuals from urban centres. The risks of such responses are considerable: intensified social stratification of public spaces, increased social disadvantage for already marginalised groups, expanded numbers of individuals in the criminal justice system, and reduced participation in street-based expression of political views.

The research investigates legal, municipal and social responses to political protesters and to the visibly homeless in city streets, and the ways in which control over public homelessness and public dissent is experienced. The project generates detailed knowledge about uses of street spaces by utilising a novel multi-layered research design implementing concepts of ‘atmosphere’ and ‘spatial justice’ in understanding how we respond to public dissent and public homelessness, while engaging with the recounted narratives and lived experiences of individuals occupying the street.

Project team

Outputs

Young, A. (2021) ‘Stay Safe, Stay Home’: Spatial Justice in the Pandemic City, Legalities 1(1): 19-43.