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Narratives of Governance: Understanding Responses to Street Homelessness in Canterbury

Varnava, Tracey (2024) Narratives of Governance: Understanding Responses to Street Homelessness in Canterbury. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.104888) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:104888)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only until February 2027.

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In this thesis I examine the complexities and inconsistencies of the contemporary governance of street homelessness by exploring a particular locale, the city of Canterbury in Kent. Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives I engage with governance as it presents in Canterbury, expanding existing literature by investigating novel and under researched spaces and practices.

My research, and this thesis, traverses the city. It begins in a local churchyard, passing through the Business Improvement District, into a city centre park before concluding with visits to two homeless charities. In each site I unravel the connections between the contexts in which governance is practised and the range of responses to street homelessness. I explore and critique notions of localism illustrating how responsibility for homelessness has become dispersed and obscured. Further, my analysis problematises universalising accounts of the effects of neoliberalism on the governance of street homelessness in urban settings, uncovering a more varied and variable reality: highlighting, for example, how the stories told about the history, character, and values in and of a city inflect the approach to governance.

I employ a methodology that juxtaposes a close and contextually rich reading of the narratives composed and communicated by different governance actors with the findings from my empirical research. This distinctive approach provides an original account of urban governance, revealing underlying contingencies and demonstrating the significance of local context as a productive site for assessing and extending contemporary discourses of street homelessness.

This thesis proposes that a more nuanced understanding of the governance of street homelessness is possible by paying attention to local context, and the spaces and agencies that are less commonly the focus of analysis. I argue that this approach serves to unravel and reframe usual oppositional explanatory constructs such as deserving/undeserving, compassionate/punitive, public/private, indolent/productive, and unsettles theories of localism and neoliberalism by placing them in the everyday. In doing so, fresh perspectives emerge of street homelessness and the spaces, rationalities, and practices of governance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Kirton-Darling, Edward
Thesis advisor: Carr, Helen
Thesis advisor: Piska, Nick
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.104888
Uncontrolled keywords: Local/localism, governance networks, governance narratives, neoliberalism, urban space and place, public/private, meanings of street homelessness, marginalisation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV4491 Homelessness
K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2024 13:10 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 11:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Varnava, Tracey.

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