Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Andrea Leverentz

Second Advisor

Sarah Mayorga

Third Advisor

Kevin Drakulich


Methadone Mile, a pejorative label used to describe an area near Boston’s South End neighborhood, is known for its open-air drug market, disorderly streets, and concentration of addiction and homeless social services. For over a century, social services in the area have provided care to the city’s most vulnerable. Yet, over the past several decades the neighborhood gentrified. Whereas gentrification often results in social services being pushed out of neighborhoods undergoing change, the area continues to be the city’s central social service hub. As a result, the South End is a hotbed of conflict and tension as the city’s well-to-do and social service providers clash over claims as the rightful owners of the neighborhood. I used participant observation of neighborhood meetings and in-depth interviews with social service recipients and/or those on the streets, social service providers, and neighborhood residents to uncover how power dynamics shape neighborhood social control efforts and the contestation for the right to control the South End.


Revised: June 2021 (with permission of Dean of Graduate Studies Bala Sundaram and Sociology graduate program director).

Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.