Normative stances regarding enforcement in street homelessness policy

Date Friday 6 April 2018
Time 1am - 2:30am
Where Room J.1.10
Presenter Professor Sarah Johnsen, Institute for Social Policy, Housing & Equalities Research I-SPHERE, Heriot-Watt University
Contact Ottilie Stolte
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

School of Psychology Colloquia

Street homelessness often provokes great intensity of feeling, and this is especially true when force is employed in policy responses. Using measures targeting rough sleeping and other forms of so-called ‘problematic street culture’ in the UK as illustrative examples, this paper reviews the rationale that various stakeholders express when justifying and opposing the use of force. It critically examines the (often ambivalently and/or irresolutely expressed) normative bases underpinning their positions, including those that might be classified as contractual, paternalistic, mutualistic, utilitarian and/or social justice-related in orientation. These, the paper argues, determine the weighting stakeholders attach to the protection of individual liberty vis-a-vis welfare and thereby their stance(s) as advocates or opponents of social control mechanisms. It concludes that the analytical framework proposed might valuably be used to facilitate more constructive, even if still ‘difficult’, conversations about the most appropriate responses to street homelessness.

Speaker biography: A Kiwi who lives a long way from home, Professor Sarah Johnsen works as a Professorial Fellow in the Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. After completing her PhD at the University of Otago she worked for Queen Mary University of London, the University of York, and The Salvation Army (UK & Ireland) before moving to Scotland. Almost all of Sarah’s work has an explicit policy orientation and focuses on homelessness, addiction, and/or related forms of street culture (e.g. begging and street drinking). Sarah has a particular interest in the effectiveness of welfare provision for homeless people with complex needs.