Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Urban and Public Affairs
Urban and Public Affairs, PhD
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
carceral state; racism; urban governance; neoliberalism; citizenship
Exploring and understanding the widespread use of arrests and incarceration in urban neighborhoods of concentrated poverty is the subject of this dissertation. The research addresses gaps in theoretical debates about the causes of mass criminalization that position the phenomenon as the result of either neoliberalism or racism. In addition, the dissertation explores the impact of mass criminalization on urban citizenship. Urban citizenship is a theoretical frame that considers the substance of the economic, social, political, and mobility dimensions of city life. The research methodology is a case study of two impoverished neighborhoods in the city of Louisville, Kentucky that incorporates both qualitative and quantitative data. The researcher systematically analyzed interviews with 72 residents in the neighborhoods of Russell and Portland using the frames of urban citizenship to answer how mass criminalization impacts the lives of urban residents. The findings of the dissertation show ubiquitous carceral state interventions into the poor neighborhoods in the study create spaces of attenuated citizenship. The interviews show how carceral state interventions shape the lives of residents along social, political, and economic lines and in their ability to move freely throughout their community and access public space without state interference. The research also illuminates how urban governance for the poor often occurs through processes of surveillance and punishment, despite government interventions being antithetical to the philosophy of neoliberalism. Finally, a major theoretical contribution of the dissertation is the way it engages the race and class debate surrounding the carceral state by interviewing individuals from a predominately black and a predominately white neighborhood. The findings from the interviews show that class strongly influences the impact of the carceral state in a way that crosses racial lines, making a consideration of both integral to a full understanding of mass criminalization in urban neighborhoods.
Jones, Elizabeth Michele, "The unequal city: the mass criminalization of the urban poor." (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3077.