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Infrapolitics of Defiance: Forms of Agency Exhibited by Homeless Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

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  • Carolyn Stauffer

    (Department of Applied Social Sciences, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA)

Abstract

This article offers a provocative look at practices of false compliance that homeless gender-based violence survivors employ to withstand the personal and structural violence they experience. The article explores how the three instrumentations of disorder, evasion, and subterfuge are used by survivors as forms of veiled resistance, as well as locations that exhibit their agency. Featuring stories from a series of in-depth interviews, the article uses critical theory to examine the specific mechanisms survivors’ use to defy violent power relations. The research employs a grounded theory methodology, using narrative analysis grids to code for dialogic and performative themes that consistently emerge in survivor narratives. Research findings suggest that survivors’ needs may be best met through innovative community-based programming that deinstitutionalizes entry and exit points into support systems. This decenters the role and function of the external professional helper by utilizing trained local community members as key partners in the disruption of violence cycles. This less traditional approach should be accompanied by housing reform policies that effect longer-term structural change by embedding shelter and safety needs in community networks. In the absence of such durable supports, survivors will continue to enact strategies of sabotage and logics of subversion until helping systems are transformed.

Suggested Citation

  • Carolyn Stauffer, 2017. "Infrapolitics of Defiance: Forms of Agency Exhibited by Homeless Survivors of Gender-Based Violence," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-11, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:6:y:2017:i:3:p:70-:d:103536
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