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Stigmatising gang narratives, housing, and the social policing of Māori women

It is well established that negative stigmas are used to dehumanise and to limit, restrict, and deny assistance to poor and racially marginalised populations, especially single mothers. While scholars have examined racial social control with regard to gangs, how the stigma of gang affiliation influences access to quality housing has been scantly examined in New Zealand. Employing discourse analysis to examine parliamentary speeches regarding the Organised Crime Bill and Residential Tenancy Amendment Bill (2009–2018), this project explores how gangs are framed in housing-related political discourse. Findings reveal that language used by policymakers constructs gangs as being associated largely with Māori through three main tactics: referencing ‘ethnic’ gangs as the only entity/focus of organised crime; omitting Pākehā/White gangs and white-collar crime; and identifying areas/towns with high Māori populations as in need of targeted social control. Such framing strategies fashioned a criminalising narrative around Māori as gang members and as inherently violent that permeates housing-related political rhetoric used to frame ‘bad’ or ‘undesirable’ tenants enabling policymakers to stigmatise Māori as the ‘criminal other’. This motif carries severe implications with regard to life chances of Māori women, especially as it relates to housing screening practices and the ability to secure social housing.
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Type of thesis
Lewis, C., Norris, A. N., Heta-Cooper, W., & Tauri, J. (2020). Stigmatising gang narratives, housing, and the social policing of Māori women. In L. George, A. N. Norris, A. Deckert, & J. Tauri (Eds.), Neo-colonial injustice and the mass imprisonment of indigenous women (pp. 13–33). Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
Palgrave Macmillan
© The Author(s) 2020