Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Randy Lippert


Social sciences




The ability to access social services when in need is a fundamental component of the social safety net available to Canadians. When approaching such services, consideration is seldom given to the subtle forms of governance that accompany the administration of aid. This thesis questions: Through what means are shelter seeking persons categorized beyond the division between the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor and how is their treatment moralized, categorized, and legitimized within the shelter system? This study uncovers the inherent complexities in sorting, categorizing, and assisting the homeless beyond the traditional dichotomy of the deserving and undeserving poor. This thesis argues that moral regulation is occurring within contemporary social services, and homeless shelters provide an ideal site from which to observe moral regulation and its transition into the 21st Century. By studying moral regulation of the homeless, it is evident that previous studies have overlooked the roles of surveillance and external institutions in the regulation process, and their role in measuring resident's progress and the overall (re)construction of residents as liberal subjects. Using a moral regulation approach, the importance of considering social services staff as moralizing agents is uncovered.