Negotiating the Margins: Aging, Women and Homelessness in Ottawa

Title: Negotiating the Margins: Aging, Women and Homelessness in Ottawa
Authors: Shantz, Laura R. S.
Date: 2012
Abstract: As the population ages and income disparities increase, issues affecting older adults and marginalized individuals are examined more frequently. Despite this, little attention is paid to the community experiences of women over the age of fifty who face marginalization, criminalization and homelessness. This study is an institutional ethnography of older marginalized women in Ottawa, focusing on their identities, lives and their experiences of community life. Its findings are based on ethnographic fieldwork as well as interviews with 27 older marginalized women and 16 professionals working with this group. The women described their identities, social networks, daily activities and navigations of their communities as well as the policy and discursive framework in which their lives are situated. Regardless of whether the women had housing or were staying in shelters, upheaval, uncertainty and change characterized their experiences in the community, reflecting their current circumstances, but also their life courses. Their accounts also revealed how, through social support, community services, and personal resilience, older marginalized women negotiate daily life and find places and spaces for themselves in their communities. As an institutional ethnography, this research foregrounds participants’ responses, framing these with theoretical lenses examining mobilities, identity, social capital, governmentality, and stigma. Specifically, it uses the lenses of mobilities and identities to understand the nature of their community experiences, before moving outward to examine their social networks and the world around them. Governmentality theory is also used to describe the neoliberal context framing their community experiences. The study concludes with a reflection on the research and a set of policy recommendations arising from the study.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -