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Willful ignorance as resistance, harm reduction workers and ruling relations

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posted on 2021-05-24, 07:31 authored by Christopher Maxim Piercey Dalton
This paper will explore how front-line harm reduction workers govern the space of agency services. In order to study how this is done this writer completed an institutional ethnography to illuminate how power operates in the day-to-day practice of a harm reduction agency. Harm reduction services have been criticized as a site of neoliberal governance through risk-management. This study aims to explore how harm reduction workers perform and understand their role within their agency. This writer interviewed front-line staff members that distribute harm reduction material, asking them about their adherence to their organizational policies and procedures. The policies represented by the text of the signage within agencies was also analyzed. Study results showed that staff members used wilful ignorance to allow people to use drugs on agency premises, provided they did so in a discreet manner. Harm reduction workers also tried to reduce the suffering, and promote the larger political goals of harm reduction, to help people who use drugs.





Master of Social Work


Social Work

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type