Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




W.L Rodman




This research examines the role of narrative within two Women's Shelters in Hamilton, Ontario. Utilizing a critical interpretive framework and drawing on anthropological approaches to narrative theory, I examine how front line shelter workers engage with the women they serve through, listening, interpreting and representing their clients stories and how they use these stories to provide direct service. Front line workers interpret clients' stories through various lenses, including, cultural and personal. Dominant discourses of homelessness, abuse, addictions, sex trade and mental health issues can be stereotypical and can limit human potential. Cultural narratives influence how we think about issues like homelessness and abuse and workers' own embodied subjectivities will influence how they understand each individual story. Shelter work can be very challenging, but the reality is that shelters are often the first place that women go when they need help and front line shelter workers have an opportunity to provide workers with much more than just basic needs. throughout this thesis, I argue that listening to clients stories is one of the most important things that shelter workers do and that by taking advantage of narrative moments front line shelter workers provide important opportunities for women to heal from the abuse and trauma that they have been through.

McMaster University Library

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Anthropology Commons