Professor Jerry Flores calls for action for missing and murdered Indigenous women in University of California Press blog post

Professor Jerry Flores recently published a blog post for the University of California Press, entitled “Young and at Risk: Canada’s First Nation Women and California’s Latinas.” Professor Flores is an Assistant Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities on the Mississauga campus. He joined our faculty in 2017 and teaches in the areas of gender and crime, race and ethnicity. In the blog post, Professor Flores draws connections between First Nations women’s disappearances and the California Latina women he studied for his book, Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration. He also provides policy suggestions to help ensure that these young women are no longer vulnerable.  We have included an excerpt of the blog post below.

Young and At Risk: Canada’s First Nation Women and California’s Latinas

Across Canada there has been tens of thousands of missing first nations women like Tamara Lynn Chipman. A similar pattern has occurred near American reservations as well as places like Juarez, Mexico where scores of women as young as 14 years old have been kidnapped, raped, murdered and never returned to their families. Most of these women have received little media coverage, scant support from criminal justice institutions and are seldom found alive, if at all.

As an incoming faculty member in the sociology department at the University of Toronto, a new resident to Canada, and a Chicano feminist I was stunned by these stories. During the last ten years, there have been an increase in documentaries on this issue, scores of independent efforts to find these people, but there has been little government support to successfully find these women or to curtail these disappearances. As I began to read about this issue I was baffled by how similar the stories of these youth compare to the experiences of justice involved Latinas that I interviewed in Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance and Wraparound Incarceration. In this book, I address the multiple home factors that contribute to Latinas in Southern California ending up behind bars and the challenges they face when attempting to return to a “normal life.” I interviewed over 30 young women and included twenty more via group interviews or ethnographic fieldwork.

Read the full post here.

PhD student Anelyse Weiler interviewed for Toronto Star article on migrant workers

Anelyse WeilerPhD student Anelyse Weiler was recently interviewed for an article in The Toronto Star on temporary migrants workers in Canada and the difficulties they face in obtaining permanent resident status. Weiler’s research focuses on labour migration and sustainable food systems, and she recently co-authored “Food Security at Whose Expense?, a paper that was published in the International Migration Journal in August. We have provided an excerpt of the article below.

He’s worked legally in Canada for 37 years but the government considers him ‘temporary’

By Nicholas Keung

…Anelyse Weiler, a University of Toronto PhD student specializing in labour migration and sustainable food systems, said granting status to migrant farmworkers upon arrival is the only way to liberate a “captive labour force that is readily exploitable by design.”

“When low-wage migrant workers are given the dangling carrot of a pathway to permanent residency, they are vulnerable to highly exploitative employment arrangements during the limbo period before they potentially become permanent residents,” said Weiler, a co-author of a paper — titled Food Security at Whose Expense? — published in the International Migration Journal in August.

“One of the drawbacks of open work permits alone would be that if workers are still deportable and lack a fair appeal process prior to a repatriation order, then they might face similar challenges as today.”

The argument that the migrant worker programs are a win-win for Canada and the workers ignores the lopsided imbalance of power, she said.

“These programs function by taking advantage of racialized global inequality. It’s hard to square the win-win logic with years of research documenting systemic problems of substandard housing, inadequate access to washrooms and unscrupulous job recruiters who charge exorbitant fees,” Weiler noted…

Read the full article.

PhD candidate Lawrence Williams’ Frontiers in Sociology article considers Parsons’ role in contemporary sociological thought

Lawrence WilliamsPhD candidate Lawrence Williams  recently published an article in Frontiers in Sociology. His article demonstrates how the rejection of Parsons by many sociologists ironically influenced the development of an impersonal theory of action. Williams is currently writing his dissertation studying how individuals working in the field of customer service understand their careers and find meaning at work. This article is one of four that Lawrence has had accepted for publication in 2017.

We have posted the citation and abstract below. The full article is currently available through open access on the Frontiers of Sociology website.

Williams, Lawrence Hamilton. From Conscious Values to Tacit Beliefs: Assessing Parsons’ Influence on Contemporary Sociology. Frontiers in Sociology (2017) 2; http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fsoc.2017.00010. DOI=10.3389/fsoc.2017.00010

Much sociological research is now focused on demonstrating how culture both motivates individuals to act and provides them with justifications for their actions (Vaisey, 2009). However, I argue that this sociological work relies on a model of action that sees culture itself as driving action beyond individuals’ reflexive use of culture. I argue that it does so by conceptualizing the internalization of culture as pre-subjective and impersonal, essentially committing what is often deemed the Parsonian problem of diminishing the contingent nature of social action through the use of abstractions. Just as Parsons was charged with placing undue emphasis on various social systems rather than on persons, dominant strands of sociological inquiry overemphasize the salience of shared norms and schemas at the cost of individual perception. The major difference, however, is that while Parsons justified his focus on the system level by framing individuals as highly conscious and deliberate in their actions, contemporary sociologists tend to frame individuals’ actions as largely unconscious and reliant on situational logics. In doing so, the consciously and normatively overdetermined actor in Parsonian sociology is now unconsciously and situationally overdetermined in contemporary sociology, a perspective ironically anticipated and deliberately positioned against by Parsons himself. Thus, I assert that efforts to de-Parsonize the discipline have given rise to theoretical problems that need resolution. I demonstrate how utilizing some of Parsons’ key insights on the importance of simultaneously considering multiple levels of analysis when studying action could be a fruitful way to proceed.

Read the full article here.

Professors Judith Taylor and Josée Johnston consider Hugh Hefner’s cultural impact

Judith TaylorProfessors Judith Taylor and Josée Johnston recently published an article in The Conversation discussing the late Hugh Hefner’s influence on beauty, sexuality, and the objectification of women in the media. Professor Taylor is a faculty member in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies and teaches at the St. George campus. Professor Johnston is a faculty member in Sociology at the UTM campus. Both have done collaborative research on gender, beauty norms and popular culture. We have posted a short excerpt of the longer piece here.

Hugh Hefner’s legacy: Narrow visions of sex and beauty

With the death of Hugh Hefner, the architect of the Playboy empire, comes tributes and stories of his life. One wonders about his origin story, the price of his mansion and why he loved to wear pajamas. Hefner’s death gives us reason to revisit the debate about whether Playboy made room for sexual expression and free speech — or whether it ushered in a pitiful era of objectification of women with still-lingering effects.

What can we say about Hefner’s impact on sexual culture? Did his empire broaden the sexual landscape in the U.S. and abroad? As researchers who look at popular culture, gender and women’s sense of value and sexual selfhood, we assert that Hefner’s effects have been detrimental.

Most centrally, Hefner defined sexuality solely as men’s desire, in which women aim to achieve physical attractiveness as a life project. In this definition, women can consider themselves sexually successful if, and only if, they are desirable to men (or “f*ckable”, as noted by female comedians like Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

Playboy culture advocated objectification rather than reciprocity, without democratizing heterosexuality and asking men to cultivate, earn and fail at desirability, as women do.

Read the full article here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee unravels NRA gun ownership myths in Maclean’s op-ed

Professor Jooyoung Lee recently published an op ed piece in  Maclean’s magazine reflecting on the American gun lobby in the wake of the October 1st Las Vegas massacre.  Professor Lee notes that the disjuncture between the terrifying realities of mass shootings and the message that the NRA sends to Americans about the value of guns for keeping safe from shootings. Professor Lee is a faculty member at the St. George campus with research expertise in crime and gun violence in the United States. We have posted an excerpt of the article here; the full article is available on the Maclean’s magazine website.

The NRA is wrong: Real life is not an action movie

The NRA has been lying to you. For years, they’ve promoted the same bumper-sticker motto: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” These were the exact words spoken by National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre killed 26, including 20 children. Since then, this saying has taken on a life of its own. It fuels a frontier attitude toward the second amendment and creates unrealistic beliefs amongst gun owners who think they’ll become Dirty Harry when things hit the fan. And, of course, it encourages people to buy more guns.

Trouble is, a close examination of mass shootings—including the recent Las Vegas shooting, which has killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500 others—pokes holes in this logic. The video footage seen thus far reveals an ugly truth: Mass shootings are chaotic, scary, and fleeting, and they rarely conform to our dominant cultural images of active-shooter situations—much less the action-hero prospects promised by LaPierre. While shootouts look cool, stylish, and effortless in movies like John Wick or The Tower, reality is a different animal.

Read the full article here.

Professor David Pettinicchio’s research featured in U of T Magazine

UTM professor David Pettinicchio is currently working on a study of the difficulties faced by Canadians with disabilities in securing employment. His work was recently featured in U of T Magazine. We have posted an excerpt below.

When Getting a Job Is Mission Impossible

By John Lorinc

When Kate Welsh, a 29-year-old artist and educator applies for a job, she faces more than the usual trepidation about whether there will be an interview and an offer of employment at the other end of an inherently competitive process. Welsh (MEd 2017) has a physical disability as well as a chronic illness that flares up from time to time, which means she always has to gauge when, in the process, she should disclose her conditions: in her cover letter or resumé, via a call prior to an interview or even just when she shows up for the meeting.

She also has to investigate whether the venue is genuinely accessible, or just cursorily so. “Arriving at a location that is not accessible is one of the worst things,” says Welsh. “There are so many steps before even getting in the door.”

The reality – borne out by surveys – is that many people with disabilities never get further than an interview. Ontarians with disabilities are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than the working age population as a whole, and tend to earn considerably less when they are hired, says David Pettinicchio, a professor of sociology at U of T Mississauga.

He cites a 2006 Statistics Canada survey that found one in four people with disabilities felt they were denied a job interview because of their conditions. In the U.S., the situation is even more dire.

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is considered to be a highly robust anti-discrimination law, yet only 40 per cent of all people with disabilities in the U.S. work, and their employment rate has actually fallen steadily since the law came into effect.

“The question,” Pettinicchio asks, “is why?”

Read the full article.