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SOCB51 Lecture 3 Notes
In the public space and public sphere, we go and experience a variety of services which
are contested with different types of messages, with different types of architecture,
assuming different types of norms. Running graffiti has the same status as Jerm 4 in
terms of being illegal. Stickers around campus. illegal but political message. How
messy it is to attempt to apply law and sort out what norms are working and how they’re
working. Graffiti and their bodies. Our bodies in public space and how we conduct
UTSC bus lines 2 years ago. Why did we line up? Governed by norms. Politeness,
etiquette, order in public space. These norms are internalized. Additional effort to make
sure we queue up properly. It’s obvious where you’re supposed to stand and wait and if
we violate them, there are consequences. They may not be severe but they’re there. Your
behaviour catches the attention of other people.
This idea of controlling different types of spaces and different types of bodies around
how there are contested notions in space and what looks orderly/proper. Ideas of who or
what should be included and who or what should not be included. Inclusion of public
space. A fundamental moral and legal issue is the claim to citizenship.
How should we govern the poor in public spaces? A question that rests at the heart of
how political power is exercised. It’s fundamental to the formation and legitimacy of
democratic states and state power. What are our collective responsibilities to strangers
who need help? What do we owe other people who ask for help, particularly strangers?
These are central questions. Looking at this through vagrancy law and policing of street
begging. Vagrancy law is about 7 centuries old. First count mentioned would be in 1352.
Vagrancy law comprised most of what we think of as criminal law today was actually
covered by vagrancy law until about the 18th century. Covered a huge area of everyday
conduct. It was one of the central categories in which people were governed for centuries
These are the categories of the individuals who fell under vagrancy. Almost every
theatrical performers. Petty chapman: selling books. Number 7 is when you don’t work
and are out in public. Number 10 is a racializing category for any type of otherness in
terms of skin colour. The punishments varied. At the height of vagrancy law they were
severe. If you were caught more than once doing any of these activities including
begging, you might be branded. V for vagrant on forehead or whips on backs and necks
or burned holes in ear lobes. all for a form of identification. And if you were caught
with these marks, you’d be put to death without clergy. They’d be condemned in the
afterlife as well. These marks were useless because people can wear hats or disguise
themselves. Wandering around and mobility were suspect and a threat. People afraid of
fire and the spread of disease. People in the categories didn’t fit in and were highly
mobile. The threat wasn’t material but symbolic. Morally threatened or morally
corrupted. Vagrancy was a huge part of English law up until a 100 years ago. Canada had
a vagrancy law with 11 offenses in 1892, which were removed in 1972 including
begging. Prostitution also governed by vagrancy law and was removed in 1972.
If you appeared suspicious under any circumstances, it was unlawful. Some of these
vagrancy offenses were removed from our criminal code. Begging being a major offense
of vagrancy law. Begging is illegal under the safe streets act.
The image the area would portray. It makes us feel uncomfortable. Giving money to
beggars and assuming they’ll use it for drugs. If someone gives you something, you’d
have to owe them back.
Begging can be understood as a gift relationship. Gifts are always paradoxical and
contradiction. There is no such thing as a free gift. Gifts always have the idea of return. If
there was no expectation of reciprocation, we’d be suspicious of it. Gift giving is a
mundane, everyday aspect of our lives. Why? They are something that joins us to other
people and fuel our relationships. Reciprocity make much of our life social. Generalized
reciprocity balances out over time. Gift giving is often anxiety producing and perplexing.
Begging can be understood as a moral gift crime and a legal gift crime. Law actually
works to capture gift giving and prohibit it. Begging is a gift crime because it violates
norms and expectations around social actions, reciprocity and gift giving. Gift between
strangers is awkward. They didn’t share anything in the past and won’t share anything in
the future. Gift giving has tremendous moral power. Gift of money is a troublesome gift
option because it gives an impression and shows someone’s evaluation of you. Money
has one quality and it’s morally neutral. They don’t know what’s going to happen with