PhD Graduate Salina Abji on State Responsibility and Violence Against Women

Salina AbjiPhD Graduate Salina Abji published an article in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society that analyzes the relationship between state power and women’s rights. She explores the political advocacy within the “Shelter | Sanctuary | Status” Campaign formed by feminist and migrant rights groups in protest of the searching of women’s shelters for migrants by the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Salina Abji obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2016. She is currently a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at Carleton University. Her research interests include social activism and the politics of race, gender and immigration status.

We have posted the citation and abstract for her article below. The full article is available via Project Muse.

Abji, Salina. 2016. “‘Because Deportation is Violence Against Women’: on the Politics of State Responsibility and Women’s Human Rights.” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 23(4):483-507.

In 2011, Canadian authorities issued a directive allowing border guards to enter women’s shelters to deport “unauthorized” migrants, despite significant protests from civil society groups. This research analyzes the politics of state responsibility that are implicated in such contestations over women’s human rights. I show two variations in how advocates re-framed responsibility to address existing ambiguities in the law. Statist appeals reinforced the centrality of the state as a protector of women, including women without legal status. Postnational appeals, by contrast, challenged the very legitimacy of the state as a perpetrator of gendered violence through border enforcement and exclusionary citizenship.

Read the full article here.

PhD Candidate Salina Abji on Post-Nationalism and Migrant Rights

Salina AbjiIn an article published in Citizenship Studies, PhD Graduate Salina Abji analyzes the “No One Is Illegal” migrant rights movement in Canada to explore the limitations and opportunities of a post-nationalist framework. She argues that although post-nationalism is limited in its ability to address the concerns of non-status migrants, the conceptual framework is useful for challenging “normative nationalism” and providing alternative means for political participation and belonging.

Salina Abji obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2016. She is currently a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at Carleton University and her research interests include social activism and the politics of race, gender, and immigration status.

We have posted the citation and abstract of her article below. The full text is available online through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Abji, Salina. 2013. “Post-Nationalism Re-Considered: A Case Study of the ‘No One Is Illegal’ Movement in Canada.” Citizenship Studies, 17(3-4):322-338.

Studies of post-nationalism have declined considerably among citizenship scholars in recent decades, and have been largely ignored by social movement scholars in favour of more trans-national approaches. Using a case analysis of a migrant rights movement in Canada as evidence of a ‘post-national ethics in practice’, in this article I argue for a re-consideration of the usefulness of post-nationalism within current scholarship on precarious immigration status. Taking into account both the limitations and opportunities afforded by a post-national ethical framework, I examine how the movement uses a human rights framing in distinct ways to mobilize constituents, garner mainstream media attention, and effect changes to policy at the national and local level. My findings suggest that the use of human rights frames for these movements offers both risks and rewards; however, the benefits may outweigh the risks in cases in which the quality of exposure within mainstream narratives is enough to disrupt, even if momentarily, the pervasiveness of normative nationalism, opening up new spaces for reconfiguring citizenship at the local level.

Read the full article here.

PhD Candidate Katelin Albert on the Contributions of Feminist Sociology

Katelin AlbertPhD Candidate Katelin Albert published an article in The American Sociologist that critiques Stephen Turner’s (2013) book, American Sociology: From Pre-Disciplinary to Post-Normal. She argues that Turner’s theorization of what constitutes as elite or non-elite sociology “under-explores” the contributions of feminist sociology to the discipline.

Katelin Albert is currently a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research interests span medical and health sociology, gender, feminist and sociological theory, and knowledge production politics.

We have posted the citation and abstract of her article below. The full article is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Albert, Katelin. 2015. “Towards a New Normal: Emergent Elites and Feminist Scholarship.” The American Sociologist, 46(1):29-39.

Stephen Turner’s rich and informative history navigates the complex and changing landscape of American Sociology. He discusses how political, social, and academic conditions enabled varying forms of sociology and what epistemological and methodological impacts these conditions had on different schools of sociology. Turner’s book asks readers to reflect on what sociology is and what place elite and non-elite sociology should have in the discipline. Turner emphasizes the role of feminist sociology and “activist scholarship,” arguing that current sociology is one where we have in part returned to our early 20th century reformist roots. This paper expands Turner’s conversation about the contributions of feminist sociology. I offer this critique to function as an entry point through which to contemplate what elite sociology is, and how it relates to feminist sociology. I argue that Turner under-explores the contributions of feminist sociology by reducing its contributions to advocacy-based scholarship. By placing feminist sociology in opposition to elite sociology, he simplifies the important discussion of elite sociology, and loses sight of feminist sociology’s theoretical and methodological strengths. Highlighting aspects of intersectional theory and institutional ethnography, I argue that new elites have emerged in opposition, contrast, and conjunction to the elite that Turner describes, and I hope to further a dialogue on what constitutes “elite” sociology.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer on Graduate Students and Precarious Work

Louise Birdsell-BauerPhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer published an article in the Labour Studies Journal. The article shows how political identities adopted by U of T graduate students engaging in precarious work allowed them to form a “coalition of support” via the media, faculty, and undergraduate students. It demonstrates how political identities rooted within real economic conditions affect mobilization.

Louise Birdsell Bauer obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018 and her research interests include contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes in Canada and the US.

We have posted the citation and abstract of her article below. The full text is available online here.

Birdsell Bauer, Louise. 2017. “Professors-in-Training or Precarious Workers? Identity, Coalition Building, and Social Movement Unionism in the 2015 University of Toronto Graduate Employee Strike.” Labor Studies Journal, 42(4):273-294.

In this article, I argue that graduate employees took on the political identity of precarious workers who face job insecurity and income insecurity, drawing attention to the casualization of work in the academic labor market in Canada, and the cost of undertaking graduate studies in Canadian universities. Their argument appealed to media, faculty, undergraduate students, and supportive media, which was key to building solidarity and public support for graduate employees’ struggle. Building on social movement unionism literature, I show how this identity moved the debate away from the bargaining table and into broader coalition building, suggesting a broader social movement unionism among academic workers.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer and Professor Cynthia Cranford on Union Renewal Among Personal Support Workers

Louise Birdsell-BauerPhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer and Professor Cynthia Cranford published an article in Work, Employment and Society that examines union renewal among personal support workers. The authors argue that the relations between support workers and their clients influence union organization in important ways.

Louise Birdsell Bauer obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her research interests involve contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes across Canada and the USA. Cynthia Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research involves studying the intersections of economic change, gender and international migration.

We have posted the citation and abstract of the article below. The full text of the article is available here.

Birdsell Bauer, Louise and Cynthia Cranford. 2016. “The Community Dimensions of Union Renewal: Racialized and Caring Relations in Personal Support Services.” Work, Employment and Society, 31(2):302-318.

Union renewal research calls for moving beyond broad terms, like community unionism, to specify how social relations of work shape renewal for different workers, sectors and contexts. Analysis of interviews with union officials and union members in publicly funded, in-home personal support reveal two community dimensions: both caring and racialized relations between workers and service recipients. Scholarship on care workers emphasizes empathy and coalition with service recipients as a key aspect of union renewal, yet says little about racialized tensions. Studies of domestic workers emphasize organizing in response to racialization, but provide little insight into caring social relations at work. This article develops arguments that both positive and negative worker–recipient relations shape union organizing and representation in the service sector by specifying the ways in which racialization contributes to this dynamic. It suggests that anti-racist organizing at work, alongside coalition building and collective bargaining, are important renewal strategies for this sector.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Sarah Cappeliez and Professor Josée Johnston on Everyday Culinary Cosmopolitanism

Sarah CappeliezPhD Graduate Sarah Cappeliez and Professor Josée Johnston published an article in Poetics that explores how cosmopolitanism is expressed through everyday food consumption in Toronto and Vancouver. Based on the lived experience of twenty families, the authors define three different modes of cosmopolitan consumption.

Sarah Cappeliez obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. She conducts research comparing North American and European food practices in terms of their cultural, identity and consumption elements. Josée Johnston is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga and her general research goal is to advance knowledge in the sociological study of food and consumer culture.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Cappeliez, Sarah and Josee Johnston. 2013. “From Meat and Potatoes to “Real-Deal” Rotis: Exploring Everyday Culinary Cosmopolitanism.” Poetics, 41(5):433-455.

The purpose of this article is to broaden our understanding of the lived experience of cosmopolitanism and to expand the notion of multiple everyday cosmopolitanisms. Drawing from 40 semi-structured interviews with 20 families living in Toronto and Vancouver, we propose examining cosmopolitanism as a type of cultural repertoire that contains a range of cosmopolitan eating practices. Based on an in-depth reading of these interviews, we map out three modes of cosmopolitan consumption: a knowledge-focussed connoisseur mode, a pragmatic mode centred in lived experiences and social connections, and a tentative mode of engagement with cosmopolitan culture and cuisine. This research questions the idea of cosmopoli- tanism as a homogenous cultural practice or as a purely elite phenomenon. At the same time, we also demonstrate how cultural and economic capital are concentrated in and associated with certain cosmopolitan cultural styles and practices.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduates Louise Birdsell Bauer and Mitch McIvor with Professor Robert Brym on Strike Duration in the 21st Century

Louise Birdsell-BauerMitchell McivorPhD Candidates Louise Birdsell Bauer and Mitch McIvor have published a paper in the Canadian Review of Sociology with Professor Robert Brym. The article analyzes data on Canadian strike duration, volume, and frequency, and finds that strike activity has been increasing since 2001. The authors argue that this change can be explained by the reduction in wages brought about by unfavourable economic conditions.

Both Louise Birdsell Bauer and Mitchell McIvor obtained their PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Louise researches contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes in Canada and the US. Mitch conducts research studying the relationship between university student debt in Canada and graduates’ transition to the labour market. Robert Brym is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Currently, his research focuses on the democracy movement in the Middle East and North Africa.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full text is available online through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Brym, Robert, Louise Birdsell Bauer, and Mitchell McIvor. 2013. “Is Industrial Unrest Reviving in Canada? Strike Duration in the Early Twenty‐First Century.” Canadian Review of Sociology, 50(2):227-238.

Canadian data on strike frequency, duration, and volume imply that the strike is withering away. Some research also suggests that strike duration is countercyclical. However, the early twenty‐first century was anomalous from the viewpoint of these expectations. After 2001, mean strike duration increased and was not countercyclical. This paper explains the anomaly by arguing that employers are seeking to scale back the wage gains of previous decades in the face of mounting public debt and the whip of an increasingly unfettered market. These conditions apparently motivate some workers to endure protracted work stoppages, irrespective of the phase of the business cycle, in an effort to protect their rights.

Read the full article here.

PhD Candidate Catherine Cheng and Professor Hae Yeon Choo on Women’s Migration for Domestic Work and Cross-Border Marriage

Catherine ChengHae Yeon ChooPhD Candidate Catherine Cheng and Professor Hae Yeon Choo published an article that reviews the literature on women’s migration in East and Southeast Asia for the purposes of domestic work and cross-border marriage. The article highlights the interconnections between migration for domestic work and migration for marriage in East and Southeast Asia.

Catherine Cheng is a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research interests lie at the intersection of gender, nation-state, migration, labour, and citizenship, with a geographical focus on East Asia. Hae Yeon Choo is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research centers on gender, transnational migration, and citizenship to examine global social inequality.

We have posted the citation and abstract of the article below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Cheng, Catherine Man Chuen and Hae Yeon Choo. 2015. “Women’s Migration for Domestic Work and Cross-Border Marriage in East and Southeast Asia: Reproducing Domesticity, Contesting Citizenship.” Sociology Compass, 9:654-667.

This article offers an integrative review of the literature on women’s migration for domestic work and cross-border marriages in East and Southeast Asia. By bringing these two bodies of literature into dialogue, we illuminate the interconnected processes that shape two key forms of women’s migration that are embedded in the reproduction of women’s domesticity. We highlight structural analyses of the demographic and socio-economic shifts that propel women’s migration while also attending to the affective dimension of migrant women’s desires and duties and to the brokerages that mediate the migrant flow. We finally examine how migrant wives and domestic workers contest the boundary of citizenship as they claim their full personhood against divergent modes of control over their rights, bodies, and mobility. We conclude by pointing out concrete areas where the two sets of literature can enrich each other for future research on gender, labor, and migration.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Professor Shyon Baumann on Caring Consumption as Marketing Schema

Kim de LaatPhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Sociology Professor Shyon Baumann published an article in the Journal of Gender Studies that analyzes Canadian television advertisements and their role in reproducing ideas about gender and motherhood. They find that women depicted as mothers in advertisements were portrayed as consuming for the benefit of others, while women who were not depicted as mothers were portrayed as consuming for self-indulgence.

Kim de Laat obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2017 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy at the Rotman School of Management. She studies the interplay between culture, work, and organizations. Shyon Baumann is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. His work addresses questions of evaluation, legitimacy, status, cultural schemas, and inequality.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full article is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

de Laat, Kim and Shyon Baumann. 2016. Caring Consumption as Marketing Schema: Representations of Motherhood in an Era of Hyperconsumption.” Journal Of Gender Studies, 25(2):183-199.

What can representations of women’s ‘caring consumption’ (Thompson 1996) reveal about broad cultural understandings of the nature of motherhood? We study Canadian television advertisements to gain insight into the production of cultural schemas and the reproduction of beliefs about gender and motherhood. Employing an inductive qualitative analysis of portrayals of mothers and women who are not depicted as mothers, we find that the defining feature of mothers’ consumption is a unidimensional depiction of control and caring for others, presented as self-evidently gratifying and fulfilling, in the absence of competing consumption goals. Mothers’ identity emerges solely from successful consumer choices that benefit others. Such unidimensional representations of consumption stand in contrast to the consumption of women who are not depicted as mothers, who are found to engage in hyperbolic and indulgent consumption targeted towards self-gratification. We thus provide novel empirical data which show that depictions of consumption in mothers and in women not depicted as mothers are extreme in nature. Our findings provide support for, and elaborate on, the concept of ‘caring consumption’ by helping to make sense of media representations appearing within the conjunction of the contemporary marketing context of hyperconsumption, and the parenting/gender context of intensive mothering. By examining extreme consumption in television advertisements, we gain insight into features of maternal consumption ideals that may not be observable in everyday instantiations, such as the lack of mothers’ consumption for self-benefit.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Kim de Laat on Conflict and Reward in Professional Songwriting Teams

Kim de LaatPhD Graduate Kim de Laat published an article in Work and Occupations examining the work environment of professional songwriters and their methods of managing conflict and reward within an uncertain and inconsistent industry.

Kim de Laat obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2017 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. She studies the interplay between culture, work, and organizations.

We have posted the citation and abstract of the article below. The full text of the article is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

de Laat, Kim. 2015. “’Write a Word, Get a Third’: Managing Conflict and Rewards in Professional Songwriting Teams.” Work and Occupations, 42(2):225-256.

This article examines the doubly uncertain work environment of professional songwriters: They are affected by wider events in the music industry, and their immediate work context is a team setting where the distribution of tasks varies from one project to the next. Interviews reveal that songwriters pursue professional interests by enhancing cooperation, rather than engaging in defensive tactics. The author identifies two conventions: equal authorship and professional conciliation. Such conventions elucidate how rewards are managed in a team context of task variation and underscore the mutually constitutive relationship between conflict and cooperation within post-bureaucratic forms of organizing.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Kim de Laat on Musical Form and Content in the American Recording Industry

Kim de LaatPhD Graduate Kim de Laat published an article in the Sociological Forum analyzing musical form and content in the American recording industry. The article explores processes of innovation and diversity within the industry during the emergence of digital technology, from 1990-2009. De Laat argues that the ways in which types of innovation and diversity interact have broad implications for cultural production and reception.

Kim de Laat obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2017 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Her research examines the interplay between culture, work, and organizations.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full article is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

de Laat, Kim. 2014. “Innovation and Diversity Redux: Analyzing Musical Form and Content in the American Recording Industry, 1990–2009.” Sociological Forum, 29(3):673-697.

Using the American recording industry as a case study, this article analyzes innovation and diversity concurrently and outlines the analytical purchase gained from doing so; examines the effects of performer incumbency and combinatorial role patterns, thereby offering an empirical application of the “role as resource” perspective (Baker and Faulkner 7); and provides data on an underexplored era in which the emergence of digital technology has had wide‐ranging repercussions. Regressing measures of innovation (form) and diversity (content) on incumbency status and combinatorial role patterns reveals that innovation and diversity operate through distinct collaborative patterns. New artists are found to be carriers of musical innovation, and while performing artists with autonomy over the roles of songwriter and producer are more likely to be progenitors of musical diversity, innovation emerges from role specialization. Artistic roles and performer attributes, moreover, come together in particular ways to influence diversity and innovation depending on the environmental context. Post compact disc (CD) format era, innovation wrought by producer specialization is predominant, but the music is devoid of diversity. I conclude by arguing that the manner in which configurations of diversity and innovation interact has implications both for cultural production and reception.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Professor Judith Taylor on Feminist Internships and Political Activism

Kim de LaatPhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Professor Judith Taylor published an article in Feminist Formations that examines the effect of the institutionalization of the women’s movement on younger generation’s perceptions of political activism. Through interviews conducted with university students who participated in “feminist internships”, the authors find that “progressive social-movement organizations” can negatively affect students’ perceptions of the viability of social change and activism.

Judith Taylor is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, jointly appointed to the Women and Gender Studies Institute. Her research interests include feminist activism, neighbourhood community organizing, and social change-making within public institutions. Kim de Laat obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2017 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy at the Rotman’s School of Management at the University of Toronto. She studies the interplay between culture, work, and organizations.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full article is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Taylor, Judith and Kim de Laat. 2013. “Feminist Internships and the Depression of Political Imagination: Implications for Women’s Studies.” Feminist Formations 25(1):84-110.

Scholars have paid ample attention to many of the effects of the institutionalization of the women’s movement, but have not sufficiently attended to how such formalization has affected younger generations’ perceptions of what it means to be politically active. The article uses interviews with an ethnically and racially diverse sample of Canadian university students who interned in feminist organizations to better understand their perceptions. The authors found the “feminist internship” to have predictable features that depress students’ understanding of the kind of social change or challenges that are possible, and that train them to think of activism as another form of paid employment—a process the authors refer to as the routinization of political consciousness. Significantly, too, they found the likening of activism to work has also transformed social interactions among generations in the movement, replacing conflict and contestation about political goals and means with a script akin to employer/employee relations. Despite the trend towards formalization, students in the study most valued organizations in which staff members broke rules, attended to political ethics, eschewed hierarchy, strove for transparency, and openly debated ideas, signaling that de-professionalization may be a sound strategy for producing more movement adherents from emerging generations. Finally, the article reflects upon the role of women’s studies units in brokering these relations between students and organizations, explicating how internships also lead students to revise their conceptions of women’s studies curriculum as impractically critical and utopian.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Professor Shyon Baumann on the Underrepresentation of Older Women in Advertising

Kim de LaatPhD Graduate Kim de Laat and Professor Shyon Baumann published an article in Poetics analyzing cultural schemas in television advertisements to determine the impact of underrepresentation of older women in media content. They argue that the degree of underrepresentation indicates a devaluation of the demographic, which may have negative social implications.

Shyon Baumann is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. His research examines questions of evaluation, legitimacy, status, cultural schemas, and inequality. Kim de Laat obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2017 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy at the Rotman School of Management. Her research examines the interplay between culture, work, and organizations.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full article text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Baumann, Shyon and Kim de Laat. 2012. “Socially Defunct: A Comparative Analysis of the Underrepresentation of Older Women in Advertising.” Poetics, 40(6):514-541.

In our analysis of a large sample of television commercials, we find that the underrepresentation of older women is more extreme than the underrepresentation of older men. We investigate the cultural significance of this underrepresentation through comparisons of cultural schemas in advertising for age and gender. Our multivariate analyses show that while there are significant gender differences, both younger women and younger men are shown in a diversity of contexts—namely in employment and a variety of domestic contexts. Older men are portrayed more frequently on the job and with more job authority than other groups. In contrast, older women lack any clear occupational or familial roles and are the only group not associated with a socially valued schema. An interpretive reading of older women as primary characters in commercials complements our quantitative results. The cultural significance of media underrepresentation emerges through the comparison of cultural schemas for men and women of varying age groups simultaneously.

Read the full article here.

PhD Candidate Katelin Albert on Research Funding in the Social Sciences

Katelin AlbertIn an article published in the Canadian Journal of Sociology, PhD Candidate Katelin Albert studies the impact of the shift in Canadian social science research funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). Albert argues that the structure and distribution of CIHR funding allows it to define what is considered “legitimate health research” in the social sciences.

Katelin Albert is currently a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto and her research interests include medical and health sociology, gender, feminist and sociological theory, and knowledge production politics.

We have posted the citation and abstract of her article below. The full text is available online here.

Albert, Katelin. (2014). “Erasing the Social from Social Science: The Intellectual Costs of Boundary-Work and the Canadian Institute of Health Research.” Canadian Journal of Sociology (Online), 39(3):393-420.

In 2009, Canadian social science research funding underwent a transition. Social science health-research was shifted from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), an agency previously dominated by natural and medical science. This paper examines the role of health-research funding structures in legitimizing and/or delimiting what counts as ‘good’ social science health research. Engaging Gieryn’s (1983) notion of ‘boundary-work’ and interviews with qualitative social science graduate students, it investigates how applicants developed proposals for CIHR. Findings show that despite claiming to be interdisciplinary, the practical mechanisms through which CIHR funding is distributed reinforce rigid boundaries of what counts as legitimate health research. These boundaries are reinforced by applicants who felt pressure to prioritize what they perceived was what funders wanted (accommodating natural-science research culture), resulting in erased, elided, and disguised social science theories and methods common for ‘good social science.’

Read the full article here.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah makes the case for pardons and preferential licensing in Canadian Cannabis legislation

Sociology Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah has recently authored an article in The Hill Times, discussing the need for pardons and preferential licensing in Canada’s cannabis legalization policy. According to Professor Owusu-Bempah, cannabis prohibition has had disproportionate and negative impacts on marginalized groups in Canada. In order to remedy these harms, Professor Owusu-Bempah emphasizes the need for legal pardons on convictions and charges related to cannabis offences, as well as the need to include communities and people negatively affected by cannabis prohibition in the new opportunities created from legalization.

Professor Owusu-Bempah is a professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities at the UTM campus. His research focuses on policing, youth marginalization and exclusion, and race ethnicity and crime. The Hill Times is an independently owned weekly news publication based in Ottawa that reports on Canadian politics and government processes.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

Cannabis legalization in Canada: the case for pardons and preferential licensing

This law, and many that followed, had a considerable negative impact on the very groups that their proponents so often purported to help. At a time when Canada once again stands at the forefront of international drug law, we should set an example to the world by providing redress for the harms we now know we have inflicted.

AKWASI OWUSU-BEMPAH | Monday, Jan. 22, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed date for legalizing the recreational use of cannabis is fast approaching and the Senate is debating Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. Given the social harms associated with drug prohibition, legalization cannot come soon enough. We also need to go further and right past wrongs by pardoning those convicted of minor cannabis offences and by giving preference to those most targeted by Canada’s war on drugs when we issue cultivation and distribution licences.

Although unrecognized by many, the policing of cannabis and other drugs has been a priority for Canadian law enforcement agencies. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian police agencies recorded approximately 109,000 offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) in 2013, the most recent year for which comprehensive data are readily available. Of these, about 73,000 were cannabis-related cases and 59,000 were for possession. While many of these cases were cleared through police discretion (i.e. not taken to court), the number of people tried for simple possession was significant. Between 2008 and 2009 and 2011 and 2012, cannabis possession accounted for approximately 59,000 adult and 14,000 youth cases completed in our courts. Of these, 25,000 adults and almost 6,000 youth were found guilty. So, in less than half the time our prime minister has held office, more than 30,000 Canadians were branded with the marker of a criminal record for a “crime” committed by a significant proportion of the Canadian public, including Justin Trudeau when he sat as MP.

Unfortunately, these 30,000 people joined a lengthy list of Canadians who, like them, face difficulties travelling overseas, volunteering at their local schools and finding meaningful employment due to minor cannabis offences. We are legalizing the drug in part for this very reason; we acknowledge the harms caused by its current illegality. As we move towards legalization we should not forget those who have already been affected. Former Toronto police chief and current Liberal drug czar, Bill Blair, has himself pointed out these people are more likely to be drawn from the young, impoverished, and otherwise marginalized—the very people that we should be trying to better incorporate into our society, not working to exclude from it.

So how can we rectify this? By pardoning the convicted and providing opportunities for those personally affected by the war on drugs, as well as members of their communities, to benefit from a burgeoning industry.

Read the full article here.

Professors Ellen Berrey reviews the first year of Trump’s presidency in the USA and its future implications

Sociology Professor Ellen Berrey was recently featured with International Relations and Canadian History Professor Robert Brothwell in an article in the U of T News. The article discussed the first year of USA politics under President Trump, and the future implications of his legislation and rhetoric on USA and international politics.

Professor Berrey studies the effect of law, organizational practice, and culture on inequality. Her previous projects have involved research on topics such as diversity discourse, affirmative action politics, and corporate social responsibility.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

A U of T historian and sociologist look back at Trump’s year of chaos

Noreen Ahmed-Ullah | January 19th

It’s been a tumultuous year since U.S. President Donald Trump came into office. Between the daily Twitter drama, the nuclear face-off with North Korea, the probe into Russian involvement in the presidential election and the racist overtones spewing from the White House, it’s been exhausting to keep up.

U of T News spoke with historian Robert Bothwell and sociologist Ellen Berrey to unpack the year.

Bothwell, a professor of international relations and Canadian history at the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Munk School of Global Affairs, and Berrey, an assistant professor of sociology at U of T Mississauga, examined the extent of the damage left in the wake of Trump’s first year in office.


How would you summarize his year in office?

Ellen Berrey: Trump’s first year in office was America’s first year of rule by a reality TV billionaire with authoritarian tendencies. Trump created a lot of drama, and the news media sold us that drama. He governed by chaos, which mostly hampered his political agenda. He had few major victories on the legislative front, despite working with a Republican-controlled Congress. The big exception was a tax law designed for corporations and the wealthy, which the Republicans railroaded through Congress to finally get a win. However, Trump was quite successful at packing the judiciary and the executive branch with industry insiders and conservative ideologues, many of them unqualified for their jobs. In addition to his appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, he selected a record number of federal judges, who have lifetime appointments. The effects of their legal decisions will play out for decades.

Really, Trump’s biggest accomplishment was debasing public discourse, promoting racism, and deepening political divides among Americans, with the complicity of the troubled Republican party. Another way to think about that, though, is that he stepped so far over the line of what’s acceptable that he created a lot of clarity for many Americans. We don’t know a 2017 without president Trump, but I’d venture to say that his bragging about grabbing women in the crotch helped to spark the #MeToo movement.

Robert Bothwell: Trump has been surprisingly consistent over the past year. Much of what he said he’d do, he has done. His basic attitudes, beliefs and behaviour appear to be unaltered. A striking example is his ludicrous promise to build “the Great Wall of Trump” along the border with Mexico. Many people – including some in his entourage – expected he would drop it, but whenever it is questioned he doubles down on it.

He has also been able to expand his control over the Republican party, thereby solidifying his political position. Because of his consistency, he has been able to degrade and/or dismantle key U.S. institutions like the EPA, the State Department and Obamacare, and he has successfully lowered America’s standing in the world.

Read the full article here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee Interviewed on CBC’s The National

Professor Jooyoung Lee appeared in an interview on CBC News’ The National, discussing the differential treatment of marginalized groups by the media and police, in light of the recent arrest and charging of a man in relation to the deaths of two LGBTQ men from the Church Wellesley community. According to reporters, members of the community have expressed criticism for the initial lack of attention that disappearances in the community had received.

Professor Lee is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto St. George Campus. His research involves studying the effect gun violence on youth and communities.

Watch the interview here. The story begins at 18:55.

Professor Lorne Tepperman founds the “Lorne Tepperman Prize in Public Sociology” for Undergraduate students

Professor Lorne Tepperman has created the “Lorne Tepperman Prize in Public Sociology” award to highlight exemplary undergraduate student research. Professor Tepperman is a Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities on the St. George campus.

Below is the award description, and a quote from Professor Tepperman on what he hopes to achieve through the award, both from the University of Toronto ArtSci Effect website.

THE LORNE TEPPERMAN PRIZE IN PUBLIC SOCIOLOGY

Professor Lorne Tepperman (BA 1965), former chair of U of T’s Department of Sociology, has set up a prize to shine a spotlight on exceptional undergraduate student research.

The $1,000 prize will be awarded to the undergraduate who submits the best paper on a topic of social significance in Canada. The winner will be coached by departmental members on how to prepare the paper for a general audience, and the resulting piece will be pitched as an op-ed to print media and published on the department’s website.

“I’m trying to get students to look at an issue like poverty or mental health, and examine it from a sociological perspective,” Tepperman said. “We live in an unequal society. I want students to investigate the consequences of this inequality.” The top paper will be one that showcases sociological concepts, theories and methods in an effort to promote an understanding among the broader public of what sociologists do.

Tepperman also wants to raise awareness of the contributions that young people make to the field of sociology. “Accolades are often granted to graduate and faculty researchers, and I believe we need to level the playing field,” he said. “So many of these undergraduate students are simply astonishing.”

Professor John Hannigan’s book “The Geopolitics of Deep Oceans” listed in International Affairs’ Top 5 Books of December

Congratulations to Professor John Hannigan for his book, “The Geopolitics of Deep Oceans”, making the Top 5 Books of December 2017 in the International Affairs Top 5 Books Series! Professor Hannigan’s book was featured in a review in the International Affairs Journal in November 2017 and has been listed as one of the Top 5 Books of December by International Affairs.

“The Geopolitics of Deep Oceans”, published in 2016 by the Cambridge Polity Press, examines how our different understandings of oceans are influenced by social, political, and environmental factors. Professor Hannigan is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities on the UTSC campus. He teaches courses on cultural policy, urban political economy and environmental sociology.

Here is a link to the list of the Top 5 Books of December on the International Affairs Journal Blog, featuring Professor Hannigan’s “The Geopolitics of Deep Oceans”.

 

Professor Jooyoung Lee featured in The Hamilton Spectator

Jooyoung LeeProfessor Jooyoung Lee from U of T St. George’s Sociology Department was recently featured in a news article in The Hamilton Spectator weighing in on the recent rise in gun violence in Hamilton, Ontario. The article examines increasing statistics on crime and gun violence in Hamilton. Professor Lee outlines some reasons why people carry guns and methods through which guns are obtained by Canadians. Professor Lee teaches sociology at the St. George campus. His research involves studying the effects of gun violence on Black young men.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

Gun violence on the rise in Hamilton

NEWS Dec 27, 2017 by Nicole O’Reilly

Hamilton police believe there are more guns on city streets.

The evidence is in the numbers: 40 shootings this year.

The concerning statistic marks a rapid escalation of gun violence in this city, with shootings doubling year over year for the last several years. There were 22 shootings in 2016, 14 in 2015 and seven in 2014.

Four of this year’s shootings have been deadly, including the last three successive homicides between October and December.

“I think there are more guns on the street and more people to use them,” said Hamilton police Supt. Ryan Diodati, of the investigative services division.

Yet there is no singular reason for the increase in guns or shootings, or a clear indication if the trend will continue, he added.

These guns — typically illegal handguns — are often used not just in shootings, but in robberies and home invasions, which have also seen increases in specific areas.

…There is a whole school of research into why people carry guns — in particular handguns.

Most drug dealers are armed, but drug dealers aren’t the only people carrying guns, said Jooyoung Lee, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Toronto who has extensively studied the people’s experience with gun violence.

“The No. 1 reason why young people want to get a gun … the biggest reason is for protection,” he said.

Often young people, especially in marginalized communities, don’t feel safe and don’t have faith in police, he added.

Other reasons for carrying a gun include status and being involved in a particular argument or “beef.” Some marginalized youth who do not have good opportunities to “move up in the world” can see having a gun as a status symbol.

“Being perceived as tough or perhaps violent is its own form of social capital … a stand-in for other markers of achievement,” Lee said.

Accessing guns illegally is as easy as a drive over the border to a state with loose gun laws in the United States. The Hollywood movie-esque scene of traffickers hauling a huge shipment of illegal guns is not common, he said. What is common is people buying a couple of guns, perhaps at a gun show in Ohio where you don’t have to show ID, and smuggling them back to Canada illegally.

Illegal guns here tend to get passed around and can be shared within a criminal group, Lee said. Often being part of a criminal group means you get access to a cache of weapons. A spike in shootings can mean many things — that there are more guns available, or that there may be rivalry between rival groups.

“The other thing we know is that these patterns vary year to year,” Lee said. “It’s hard to abstract away from that and say that it’s predictive of a longer-term trend.”

Read the full article here.