International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)

Department

International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Laurie Ross, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Ellen Foley, Ph.D.

Abstract

Since 2006, the Charles E. Shannon Jr. Community Safety Initiative has sought to reduce youth and gang violence in multiple Massachusetts cities through partnerships of community organizations, research institutions and police departments. Worcester, Massachusetts was an original recipient of Shannon funding due to its historic and increasing problem of youth and gang violence. Using a framework of governmentality, one of the ways crime is problematized and controlled is through the use of neoliberal technologies of risk and responsibilization, underscoring neoliberalism’s emphasis on personal responsibility. When risk is used to govern and assigned to individuals and groups of people living in relegated spaces, interventions become structurally blind. The framework of governmentality and risk and responsibilization was helpful in understanding Shannon’s capacity for a community impact in Worcester that would address structural barriers to equality and de-individualize interventions. Interviews and documentary analysis were conducted to understand the capacity of Worcester’s Shannon partnership. The findings revealed successes in increasing awareness of youth violence and inter-agency communication. However, because the Shannon Partnership in Worcester continues to be responsive to neoliberal technologies of risk and responsibilization, espousing a narrow interpretation of the Comprehensive Gang Model (CGM), and lacking community participation and voice, the partnership has not, and will not, move beyond individual programmatic responses to more structural responses to youth and gang violence, further maintaining the status quo. In Worcester, Massachusetts, a post-industrial gateway city, the disadvantaged ecological context of many youth’s lives disallows progress to be made solely through programmatic services provided by the partnership’s strategy.

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