Cultural Anthropology (Advisor: Sandra Morgen)
My research project looks at the impact of Federal and Provincial welfare state disinvestment on city politics in Vancouver, Canada. In particular, I examine city-based social service policy, such as social housing policy, and the funding of city-based social policy goals through real estate development. Cash and in-kind contributions from real estate developers become a significant source of funding for low-income and social housing, among other projects. Non-profit agencies, which, with disinvestment, now deliver many social service programs, often become the managers of city-based social service initiatives. Seen from one perspective, real estate development is a source of community amenities, public benefits, and non-profit agency capital funding. Seen from another, it is rapidly shifting the tenure of city neighbourhoods, undermining resident control, demolishing existing low-income rental stock and contributing to gentrification. Links between real estate development, urban planning, gentrification, non-profit agencies, and public benefits are drawn differently by different actors, with implications in terms of class, race, and sex equality in city life. The private money and other in-kind benefits paid by the development industry take on many meanings as differently situated groups make claims for and against these resources in the absence of senior government accountability.