Impact of High Levels of Precarity on the Urban Neighbourhood Economies and Particular Populations

kensington pepso

Project Leads: Grace-Edward Galabuzi (Ryerson) & Navjeet Sidhu (Social Planning Toronto)

Researchers: Alan Meisner (Quantacan), Deirdre Pike (Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton), Anita Stellinga (United Way of Peel), Doreen Fumia (Ryerson University), Geoff McIlroy (Region of Peel), Louay Eskandar  (Region of Peel), Shannon Keats (Region of Peel), Ann De Shalit (Ryerson University), and Nasim Haque (Independent Researcher)

Student Researchers/Coordinators: Olha Lahotska (McMaster University), Ann De Shalit (Ryerson University), Hannah Atom, Ghanwa Afach

Former project collaborators: Ed Kothiringer, Samiera Zafar, Nimira Lalani, Ghanwa Afach

Research Objectives:

The objectives of this study include gaining an understanding of how precarious employment is changing the nature of the urban social and economic terrain in select Southern Ontario communities and how precarity in employment is impacting particular identifiable populations and their livelihoods. We are interested in exploring the connection between the experience of precarity and the capacity of neighborhoods to respond to it, and exploring the relationship between changing patterns of employment, people and the social and economic activities of neighbourhoods.

The project has focused on doing detailed studies of six clusters of mixed income neighbourhoods in Southern Ontario – two each in the City of Toronto, Peel Region and Greater Hamilton. The research began in early 2011 with project design and selection of neighbourhood clusters. We identified key partner organizations and researchers with expertise in the subject to compose our research team. The research team, made up of academics, community members and policy practitioners helped design a research plan that included defining key concepts (such as “precarity” and “neighbourhood”), conducting a literature review, preparing an ethics review application as well as finalizing the themes and budget for the project. The team also worked to develop a shared understanding of the identities of groups particularly vulnerable to precarity – a key focus of the sample to be investigated. The team has approached the research in a staged manner. The research will involve a Photovoice component whose findings and relationship development will inform the rest of the project.

Subsequently, the team will undertake focus groups of neighbourhood residents and targeted interviews of service providers and other key community informants. Team members have developed the necessary research instruments – training manuals for Photovoice, recruitment material, research questions, identified graduate students to work on the project and identified key cluster sites for photovoice and interviews.

The project began in earnest in 2011 with the project team undertaking the following tasks:

  • Finalize research methodology, questions and complete university ethics application
  • Define research parameters and identify case study sites
  • Create sample and neighbourhood cluster selection criteria
  • Create Photovoice training manuals for participants

In 2012 the project team completed the following items:

  • Hiring and training of project staff to assist with the coordination of our photovoice phase in each of our selected regions of study
  • Outreach, screening, recruitment and training of community participants with lived experience of precarious employment to undertake photovoice data collection
  • Photovoice data synthesis and thematic analysis
  • Held two public photo exhibitions to display photos and stories from community participants
  • Begin strategizing on the second phase of our case study consisting of focus groups and interviews with key community informants

In 2013 we anticipate:

  • Completing photovoice data analysis and produce final reports for each region
  • Continue disseminating our photovoice research findings
  • Begin drafting interview questionnaires/guides for one-on-one interviews and focus group protocols for testing
  • Start identifying key community informants for interviews and begin focus group recruitment
  • Collection of data and analysis

The research team is particularly gratified by the support of partner institutions that have contributed both staff time, intellectually and financially to the project. The project continues to operate under some financial constraints and seeks financial support for the current and future phases of the research.

Presentations and Publications:
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Photos show impact of bleak work prospects (Hamilton Spectator)