This article seeks to address the lacuna in many academic and non-academic accounts of male homeless youth, which consistently overlook and thus fail to theorize the degree to which young homeless men’s experiences are shaped by gendered and classed youth subcultures. The theoretical contribution that this article seeks to make is to bring together culturally-infused analyses with a geographic focus on space and masculinity, in order to expand the repertoire of conceptual tools with which to understand young men’s experiences of homelessness in urban spaces. It does so through an empirical investigation of urban spatial navigations of young homeless and precariously housed men in Ottawa, Canada. Mobilizing the concept of territoriality, as developed by Phil Cohen of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, alongside the Bourdieusian concept of classification struggles, the article ultimately seeks to demonstrate that there is an internal logic of practice to young men’s navigations of urban space under conditions of extreme inequality, one that seeks to reconcile the deep contradictions of neoliberalism. Simultaneously, such logics may also serve to reinscribe and reinforce their marginal positions in the city, by exposing them to extreme violence by rival urban groups, and leaving them more vulnerable to expanded criminalization by the state.

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Gender, Place and Culture
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Kennelly, J.J. (2020). Urban masculinity, contested spaces, and classed subcultures: young homeless men navigating downtown Ottawa, Canada. Gender, Place and Culture, 27(2), 281–300. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2019.1650724