Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

"Welfare Is the Second Last Resort. the Last Resort Is Death (1)". an Exploratory Analysis of Social Assistance, Victimization and Crime

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

"Welfare Is the Second Last Resort. the Last Resort Is Death (1)". an Exploratory Analysis of Social Assistance, Victimization and Crime

Article excerpt


Numerous empirical studies have sought to establish a link between poverty, crime and victimization. However, the limitations of official crime and victimization statistics do not allow for a meaningful understanding of the experiences of the poorest of the poor in Canadian society. The homeless, those living in shelters, in downtown single room occupancy hotels, and in rooming houses are seldom surveyed about their experiences with crime and victimization. In this paper I present some preliminary findings from a multi-method study of crime and victimization among this segment of the urban poor. In-depth, qualitative interviews with a purposive and diverse sample of social assistance recipients in the inner city of Winnipeg provide the basis for the analysis. Preliminary analysis of the interview data suggests that the victimization experiences of this segment of the urban poor are unique and in large part shaped by their economic circumstances. The interviews also demonstrate that many among the urban poor do not view victimization in the same way as do the more fortunate in Canadian society. I use the words of interview participants in this paper to re-conceptualize the notion of victimization as it applies to the poorest of the urban poor. Furthermore, the experiences of participants provide a sobering account of the way the actions of governments, financial institutions and some inner city businesses interact in ways that can leave the most vulnerable in our society feeling even more victimized.

Keywords: Crime, victimization, social assistance


Des nombreuses etudes empiriques ont cherche a etablir une relation entre la pauvrete, le crime et la victimisation. Cependant, les donnees statistiques entre les crimes officiels et la victimisation sont limitees et ne permettent pas de comprendre de facon significative les experiences des plus demunies au sein de la societe canadienne. Il existe tres peu d'etude en ce qui concerne specifiquement l'experience avec le crime et la victimisation de par les sansabri, ceux vivant dans des gites d'hebergement, dans les hotels d'occupation de chambre individuelle. Cet article presente quelques donnees preliminaires issues d'une etude sur le crime et la victimisation des plus demunies au sein de la ville. Notre analyse est basee sur des entrevues (qualitatives) a partir d'un echantillon de divers individu sur le-bien-etre social au sein des quartires centraux de Winnipeg. Eanalyse preliminaire suggere que les experiences de victimisation des plus demunies sont uniques et dues en grandes parties a leurs circonstances economiques. Ces derniers ne concoivent pas la victimisation de la meme maniere que les plus aises dans la societe canadienne. Qui plus est, les experiences des participants fournissent un compte rendu quelque peu inquietant en ce qui concerne les actions de par les gouvernements, les etablissements financiers et les commerces des quartiers centraux. Actions qui conduisent les plus vulnerables dans notre societe a se sentir encore plus victimise.

Mots cles : Crime, victimisation, bien-etre social


This paper examines the subjective experiences and perceptions of victimization and fear of crime among social assistance recipients living in the inner-city of Winnipeg. A purposive sample of 25 individuals who have experience with provincial social assistance (i.e. 'welfare' paid by the Manitoba government under the Employment and Income Assistance program) took part in in-depth, semi-structured interviews in the summer and fall of 2005 (2). Participants were drawn from the poorest areas of the inner city in Winnipeg--in and around the local Main Street 'skid row' district3. Interviews with these research participants provide a rarely glimpsed view of a world not ordinarily captured by social science research on victimization and crime. I rely on the words of participants to paint a detailed picture of their experiences with social assistance, their perceptions about their personal risk from crime, and their actual experiences with crime and victimization related to social assistance. …

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