Welcome to our New Faculty

In 2017, we welcomed six new faculty members into the Department of Sociology. They cover a wide range of research and teaching areas that will both strengthen and broaden our department’s profile. Though housed across the three campuses, we welcome all of these new faculty members to join in our tri-campus intellectual community.

Dokshin, FedorProfessor Fedor Dokshin studies social movements and political behaviour with a focus on the role of organizations and social networks. He uses primarily quantitative and computational approaches. Recent research examines how emerging energy industries become politically contested and how this contestation might influence regulation and policymaking, the emergence of new industries, and the distribution of health and environmental risks.

 

Flores, JerryProfessor Jerry Flores  is an ethnographer who does research in the areas of intersectionality and crime, prison studies, Latina/o sociology and work on the school to prison pipeline. As a whole, his work investigates how race, class, gender, sexuality and other identities influence people’s trajectories through the educational and penal institutions. His new work will investigate issues related to mental health and policing, and the use of video ethnography.

Plys, KristinProfessor Kristin Plys’  research sits at the intersection of political economy, postcolonial theory, sociology of development, labour and labour movements, historical sociology, and global area studies. The greater part of her intellectual work analyses the historical trajectory of global capitalism as seen from working class and anti-colonial movements in the Global South. This research program has led her to take a particular interest in “Third World” political economy in the mid-20th century, shifts in the global trade balance between Early Modern Europe and Asia, and the theories of political economy that help to analyse these historical phenomena.

Jasmine RaultProfessor Jasmine Rault’s research focuses on sexuality, gender, race and ethnicity as axes of power, social change and aesthetic potentiality. Her work takes queer feminist approaches to architecture and design (both material and digital), online research ethics and economies, and questions of sexuality in transnational arts and social movements. She is currently working on the techno-social history of ‘openness’ since the late nineteenth century, and a collaborative project to reimagine online research, publishing and archiving protocols that prioritize decolonizing, trans- feminist, queer, Indigenous and Black methodologies.

Silver, MichelleProfessor Michelle Silver studies how cumulative life experiences influence health, well-being, and adaptation to later life course transitions. Her current work focuses on the relationship between work identity and retirement; perceptions about aging; embodiment, aging and resilience; and health information seeking behaviors. She is also interested in later life gender disparities in life expectancy and pensions.

 

Professor Gail Super’s research focuses on punishment, prisons, penal policy-making, popular punitivism, and penality. She is currently engaged in two projects which both explore aspects of crime prevention and punishment in marginalized informal (shack) settlements in Cape Town, South Africa – the one involves a court case where a community leader from an informal settlement is charged with committing a vigilante murder and, the other, an analysis of closed police dockets concerning violent forms of crime prevention and/or punishment in one of South Africa’s most densely populated poor black townships.

 

Working Paper 2017-03

The Institutionalization of Sociological Theory in Canada

Cinthya Guzman, University of Toronto

Daniel Silver, University of Toronto

UT Sociology Working Paper No. 2017-03

November 2017

Keywords: Theory, Disciplinary Identity, Canonization, Canadian Sociology, Syllabi

Full Article


Abstract

Using theory syllabi and departmental data collected for three academic years, this paper investigates the institutional practice of theory in sociology departments across Canada. In particular, it examines the position of theory within the sociological curriculum, and how this varies among universities. Taken together, our analyses indicate that theory remains deeply institutionalized at the core of sociological education and Canadian sociologists’ self-understanding; that theorists as a whole show some coherence in how they define themselves, but differ in various ways, especially along lines of region, intellectual background, and gender; that despite these differences, the classical vs. contemporary heuristic largely cuts across these divides, as does the strongly ingrained position of a small group of European authors as classics of the discipline as a whole. Nevertheless, who is a classic remains an unsettled question, alternatives to the “classical vs. contemporary” heuristic do exist, and theorists’ syllabi reveal diverse “others” as potential candidates. Our findings show that the field of sociology is neither marked by universal agreement nor by absolute division when it comes to its theoretical underpinnings. To the extent that they reveal a unified field, the findings suggest that unity lies more in a distinctive form than in a distinctive content, which defines the space and structure of the field of sociology.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh on how place makes race

A chapter from Professor Neda Maghbouleh’s recently published book, The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race, was recently featured in a blog post on the Standford University Press Blog. The chapter explores how race becomes constructed through one’s ties to certain places. Professor Maghbouleh teaches at the UTM campus and studies race and immigration, with a focus on groups from the broad Middle East. We have posted an excerpt of the blog post below.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
How place determines race for racially in-between immigrants.

by Neda Maghbouleh

July 4, 2002, was a particularly humid Independence Day in Boston. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. I had stayed on campus to work, and for the first time my family had come to visit me in New England. That year, we found ourselves among the thousands of revelers who descended in undulating waves down to the banks of the Charles River to see the fireworks. My mom and little sister scrambled onto the first available patch of grass while I unrolled a blanket I had snatched off my twin-size dorm room bed hours earlier. My aunt unpacked almonds, cantaloupe, and soda from a plastic shopping bag; my dad, ambling slowly, as he does, brought up the rear.

As we fanned ourselves on the blanket, my parents discussed how twenty years earlier to the day they had boarded a Fourth of July flight to Portland, Oregon, with me, at nine months old, in tow. We were striking out on our own, away from New York City, where I was born and where, as new immigrants from Iran, my parents worked in a Persian rug store owned by my dad’s extended family.

That morning in Boston I was the last to notice the white woman on the next blanket over who was staring at us in disgust. She stared at my dad in particular, who in a bit of confusion politely smiled back at her between his bites of cantaloupe. She whispered something in her companion’s ear; they rolled up their blanket and left, flip-flop sandals smacking up and down against the ground. We didn’t see or think about the women for a few minutes until two men in sunglasses and cargo shorts began to walk in wide circles around our blanket. “Oh my God,” my mom whispered to me in Persian. “The cops are watching us.” The July humidity was already intense, but it began to feel suffocating. Within seconds, a uniformed police officer and his K-9 approached us.

“What brings you folks down here today?” the officer asked my dad.

“Fourth of July, the fireworks,” my dad replied.

The K-9 sniffed the plastic bag that held our snacks as the officer probed further: “Okay, where are you from?”

“We’re visiting our daughter; she goes to college here. We are from Portland, Oregon,” my dad said softly.

Like the two women before him, who now stood smirking at a safe distance away from us, the officer seemed unconvinced. He scrutinized our blanket and what sat on it: four women, one man, all of them sweaty, with dark hair, skin between white and brown, speaking to each other in English and something else. The uniformed officer made a slight gesture and, before the plainclothes officers he’d signaled swooped in for backup, he clarified the question: “I didn’t ask where you live. I said where are you from?”

Read the full post here.

Professor Jooyoung Lee on Global News about Trump’s moves to weaken US gun laws

Sociology Associate Professor Jooyoung Lee was recently featured on Global News about renewed gun regulation debates in the USA,  in light of the mass shooting in Las Vegas at the beginning of October. In the article, Professor Lee outlines the ways in which the Trump Administration has been weakening gun regulations, such as allowing easier access to guns for those with mental health conditions or those with outstanding arrest warrants. Professor Lee’s research involves gun violence and its effects on the social environments and health of Black youth.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

4 things Donald Trump is doing to loosen gun laws in the U.S.

By Maham Abedi

Gun regulations in the United States are facing renewed scrutiny in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Las Vegas last weekend, which left 58 dead and more than 500 injured…

Just weeks after he became president, Trump signed a bill making it easier for those with mental health conditions to access guns. The law reversed one that Obama signed in December, which added people receiving Social Security mental health checks, and those considered unable to handle their own finances, to the national background-check database.

Trump’s Feb. 28 bill prohibits the Social Security Administration from adding information about such individuals to the database.

The move was done quietly, The Washington Post reports, with many advocacy groups of gun control unaware of the changes until later.

Jooyoung Lee, a University of Toronto associate professor of sociology who studies gun violence, said the reversal of Obama’s law is one way the president is trying to weaken gun control.

“This is one example of Trump and Republicans trying to weaken just very common sense laws.”…

Read the full article here.

PhD students Alexandra Rodney, Sarah Cappeliez, Merin Oleschuk & Professor Josée Johnston examine ideals of feminine domesticity in food blogs

Sarah CappeliezMerin Oleschuk

 

Sociology PhD students, Alexandra Rodney, Sarah Cappeliez, Merin Oleschuk, with Associate Professor Josée Johnston have recently published an article in the international multidisciplinary academic journal, Food, Culture & Society. The paper titled “The Online Domestic Goddess: An Analysis of Food Blog Femininities“, analyzes how idealized notions of femininity are demonstrated in blog posts written by female food bloggers.

We have posted the citation and abstract below. The full article is available on the Taylor & Francis Online Database.

Rodney, A., Cappeliez, S., Oleschuk, M., & Johnston, J. (2017). The online domestic goddess: An analysis of food blog femininities. Food, Culture & Society, 20(4), 685-707. doi:10.1080/15528014.2017.1357954

Scholars have explored how female food celebrities represent a realm of fantasy and desire, embodying attractive “domestic goddesses” who showcase the wonder and seduction of home-cooked meals. These studies have largely focused on television personalities and have overlooked the food blogosophere, a highly popular, digital realm of food media dominated by women. The blogosphere has its own prominent food personalities and occupies a central role as a source of information and inspiration for home cooks. This paper investigates how idealized food femininities manifest on popular food blogs by examining 426 blog posts written by twenty-two award-winning, female food bloggers. These bloggers forward a vision of idealized feminine domesticity that is glamorously seductive and rooted in the “real” life of everyday home cooks. This article illuminates food blogs’ paradoxical combination of idealization and mundanity. It argues that the online domestic goddess exemplifies women’s need to balance multiple, seemingly contradictory ideals: she must embody domestic success, while avoiding associations of perfectionism, excessive control, or laziness. This study of female bloggers nuances scholarly understanding of the domestic goddess fantasy by revealing the deep tensions in women’s food blogs, particularly the challenge of crafting a credible and appealing feminine voice in a postfeminist context.

Read the full article here.

 

PhD student Marianne Quirouette awarded Canadian Law and Society Association article prize prize

Marianne QuirouetteCongratulations to Marianne Quirouette who, along with her co-authors, received the Canadian Law and Society Association’s prize for the best English-language article published in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society in 2016. Marianne recently completed and defended her dissertation entitled Risks, Needs & Reality Checks: Community Work with Disadvantaged Justice-Involved Individuals, under the supervision of Professor Hannah-Moffat. Marianne has now begun a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Ottawa where she is studying defense lawyers’ approaches to representing poor and marginalized clients in lower criminal courts.

The winning CJLS article comes out of a yearlong longitudinal study of the factors and processes affecting transitions away from homelessness for 51 young people in Toronto and Halifax. Quirouette and her co-authors (including Tyler Frederick, U of T SOC alumni PhD 2012) found that conflict with the law impacts youth in two types of ways that negatively affect their ability to transition out of homelessness. First, it produces short – and long – term practical barriers to housing, education, and work because of arrest, court, jail, records, and oversight from other authorities. Second, it negatively affects self-perception, motivation, and hope for the future. The authors found these two effects lengthened the process of becoming housed and threatened  stability, wellness, and ability to access opportunities. Findings highlight how conflict with law and regulation—even occurring before and during homelessness—has serious repercussions for young people well after they have left the streets. The citation and abstract of the article follow.

Marianne Quirouette, Tyler Frederick, Jean Hughes, Jeff Karabanow and Sean Kidd, “‘Conflict with the Law’: Regulation & Homeless Youth Trajectories Toward Stability” (2016) 31 CJLS 383. https://doi.org/10.1017/cls.2016.26

Youth without housing experience more regulation and conflict with criminal justice than their housed counterparts. Using in-depth qualitative interviews with fifty-one young people, we focus on how efforts to move away from homelessness towards long-term housing stability are impacted by conflict with law, a term referring to a broad range of experiences with various authorities in the legal system, social services, shelters, etc. Our paper comes out of a yearlong longitudinal study of the factors and processes affecting the transition away from youth homelessness in Toronto and Halifax. We consider practical barriers generated by conflict with law, but also the role that it can play in shaping the identity processes at the heart of successful transitions. Our findings highlight how conflict with law and regulation—even occurring before and during homelessness—has serious repercussions for young people well after they have left the streets.

Recent PhD Graduate Paulina Garcia Del Moral to begin new position at the University of Guelph

Paulina Garcia del MoralRecent graduate Paulina García Del Moral will be starting a new position as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology this January at the University of Guelph. Paulina completed her dissertation, Feminicidio, Transnational Legal Activism and State Responsibility in Mexico, in 2015 under the supervision of Professors Anna Korteweg (co-supervisor), Ron Levi (co-supervisor) and Karen Knop (Faculty of Law).

Paulina’s dissertation focuses on the response of the Mexican state to feminicidio in the context of transnational feminist activism. Femicide refers to the misogynous killing of women. Extending this concept, the term feminicidio (feminicide) emerged in Mexico to emphasize the complicity of the state in this violence by tolerating its impunity and sustaining intersecting structural gender and class inequalities. The dissertation examines how feminicidio, as a Mexican feminist frame and legal innovation, transformed domestic and international conceptualizations of women’s human rights and state responsibility for gender violence. Some of this research has been published in Current Sociology and AJIL Unbound.

The following is the abstract of her dissertation:

This dissertation uses the concept of transnational legal activism (Santos 2008) to analyze the mobilization of international human rights law as a multi-scalar process that produces and is shaped by gendered political and discursive opportunities. I apply this framework to examine how feminist grassroots activists engaged in this process by focusing on the case of González and Others “Cotton Field” v. Mexico, decided in 2009 at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). This landmark case concerns the abduction and sexual murder of three young women in Ciudad Juárez, an industrial city bordering the United States where hundreds of marginalized women have been killed since the 1990s. These murders epitomize what Mexican feminist scholars and activists identified as feminicidio, the systematic killing of women in a context of institutionalized gender discrimination sanctioned by the state. The Court ruled that Mexico had failed to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, and punish these feminicidios. It also declared, for the first time, that the state’s institutional failure to respond to such violence constitutes gender discrimination. Against this background, the dissertation investigates how federal and local state actors responded to grassroots activists’ claims and the “Cotton Field” judgment, including the criminalization of feminicidio. The dissertation draws on interviews with 12 Mexican activists and frame analysis of the “Cotton Field” case, related materials, and 284 federal and local parliamentary debates. My analysis illustrates how gender pervades state and supranational institutions, as well as law itself, hindering or facilitating both the adoption of feminist strategies to combat gender violence and the transformation of the meaning of state responsibility at the domestic and supranational levels. Throughout, I highlight the agency of feminist grassroots actors as they engaged in transnational legal activism. I thus challenge assumptions in the literature on human rights and social movements that imply that grassroots actors have a limited access to international law and to avenues to participate in transnational advocacy. Last, I suggest that the actions of Mexican grassroots activists extend a Latin American approach to international human rights law.

As a graduate student, Paulina received a number of honours, including the University of Toronto’s Connaught Scholarship for incoming international doctoral students, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. She also received the Outstanding Graduating Student Award (University of Toronto) from the Canadian Sociological Association. During her time at the Department, Paulina valued being part of a vibrant intellectual community of scholars. Working closely with her supervisors and mentors contributed to her academic and professional development, as did the support of other faculty and graduate students.

After graduating, Paulina took up a SSHRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology and the Center for Research on Gender & Women at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. There, she worked with Professor Myra Marx Ferree, participated actively in the Department’s brown bags, the Center’s lecture series, and was an invited speaker at events like the Wisconsin International Law Journal symposium on “Regional Human Rights Systems in Crisis,” among others. In addition, Paulina taught a 4th year course on Human Rights in Law & Society for the Center for Law, Society & Justice. Paulina’s post-doctoral work extended her research focus on state responses to gender violence and transnational feminist activism to the murders of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. An article based on this work is forthcoming in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society. Paulina also conducted additional fieldwork in Mexico to carry out a more in-depth analysis of the contested process of the federal and local criminalization of feminicidio.

At the University of Guelph, Paulina will join the faculty of Sociology and Anthropology and teach in their collaborative Crime & Criminal Justice Policy/Criminal Justice & Public Policy programs. Paulina will be teaching a graduate seminar on Diversity & Social Inequality, and undergraduate courses in Law & Society, Gender, and Violence & Society. She will also expand her research agenda to explore the criminalization of the killing of women either as feminicidio or its related concept, femicide (femicidio), in other Latin American countries and the context of the European Union. Paulina is interested in examining both the transnational travel/competition of feminist knowledges, and the relationship between impunity and carceral politics as states implement human rights as a feminist policy instrument to respond to gender violence.

We wish Paulina all the best as she embarks on this next stage of her career.

Professor Zaheer Baber’s TLS review explores space, race and gender

Professor Zaheer Baber has recently published a review in the Times Literary Supplement. Professor Baber is a faculty member at the University of Toronto, Mississauga with expertise in the sociology of science and technology. In this piece, Professor Baber reviewed Apollo in the Age of Aquarius, by Neil M. Maher, a book he described as one that “succeeds admirably in weaving a seamless web of technological, economic, political, social and cultural strands and their multiple, intended and unintended consequences.”

The article is available online at the TLS site. We have posted a short excerpt below.

Whitey on the moon

On the hot and humid afternoon of July 15, 1969, hundreds of excited spec­tators and media crew had crowded around the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to witness the launch of Apollo 11 the next day. While the head of NASA, Thomas O. Paine, was delighted at the large turnout and media attention, what he did not expect was an organized protest. Armed with four mules hitched to two rickety wagons (meant to symbolize the impoverished rural south), the Revd Ralph Abernathy, the ­president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the successor to Martin Luther King, led a group of twenty-five poor black American families to a meeting with the NASA chief. Under the glare of the national and international media, Abernathy told the NASA administrator that he and his fellow protestors were not against the “man on the moon” mission as such. Rather, their protest was directed against a “distorted sense of national priorities . . . against the tragic and inexcusable gulf that exists between America’s technological abilities and our social injustices”…

Read the full review here.

Congratulations to Professor Monica Boyd, recipient of the 2017 Canadian Population Society Award

Boyd, MonicaCongratulations to Professor Monica Boyd who received the Canadian Population Society Award for 2017. The CPS awards this prize once every two years to a Canadian scholar who “has shown outstanding commitment to the profession of demography and whose cumulative work has contributed in important ways to the advancement of the discipline in Canada, through publications, teaching and/or service.” In honouring Professor Boyd, the Canadian Population Society recognized her outstanding research, teaching and service contributions over the past four decades.

Professor Boyd is particularly well known for her pioneering work in incorporating an understanding of gender into the field of immigration studies, and for her more recent work on the integration of 1.5 and second generation immigrants. Her 1989 article in the International Migration Review broke new ground by showing the relationship between gender and networks in the migration process. This continues to be a widely-read and cited article and Professor Boyd has developed an international reputation as an expert in the gendered dimensions of international migration. Professor Boyd’s more recent work has had a significant impact on our understanding of the socioeconomic achievements of people who migrate as children (the 1.5 generation) and those who are the children of migrants (the second generation). Her finding that visible minority immigrant children in Canada – unlike in the United States – do not have lower educational attainments than their non-migrant peers demonstrates the importance of institutional setting and historical contexts for understanding patterns of immigrant integration.

In addition to her research, the CPS award also recognizes Professor Boyd’s extensive service to the profession. She recently served in elected positions as the President of Academy II of the Royal Society (Vice President of the RSC), the President of the Canadian Sociological Association and the chair of the International Migration section of the American Sociological Association. From 1988-1990 she served as President of the Canadian Population Society, and has also recently served as Associate Editor of the premier journal of International Migration, the International Migration Review. For three decades, Professor Boyd was a member of the National Statistics Council, the Advisory Board to the Chief Statistician of Canada and has been sought out by the United Nations for her expertise as a migration scholar.

The honour is no surprise to the many students and faculty members here who have benefited over the years from working with Professor Boyd.  She has already received a teaching award for her contributions to undergraduate education and earlier this year received the department’s graduate faculty mentoring award.  This is also not the first scholarly organization to recognize Professor Boyd’s contributions to the field. She held a Canada Research Chair for fourteen years, was named a Fellow for the Royal Society of Canada in 1997 and received a Outstanding Contribution Award from the Canadian Sociological Association in 2015.

 

Looking for a summer read? Professor Clayton Childress draws on his expertise in book publishing to recommend five.

Professor Clayton Childress recently wrote a blog post for The Conversation.com/ca that offers up summer reading tips based on his expertise from studying the publishing industry.  The full post is available on Conversation website. We have posted an excerpt below.

Five Amazing Books to Read this Summer

July 13, 2017
Clayton Childress

his summer, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, don’t re-read Harry Potter. Likewise for Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year.

Instead, embrace a little known fact about both books: their successes were prefaced with massive rejection. Twelve publishers rejected JK Rowling’s Potter before Bloomsbury agreed to an initial print run of just 500 copies. One Hundred Years of Solitude beat seemingly insurmountable odds before it was published. It was also dismissed by literary elites the world over before becoming a classic.

In a more recent example, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Sympathizer (2015) was rejected by a baker’s dozen of publishers. The list goes on and on: In 1950, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was rejected by 15 publishers, with one explaining that “even if the work had come to light five years ago, when the subject was timely, I don’t see that there would have been a chance for it.” Moby-Dick was so bad it was supposed to end Herman Melville’s career. Lord of the Flies was rejected by 20 publishers and sold so poorly it was out of print within 18 months. After John Grisham’s first novel failed to sell, he promised his wife he’d give up writing after one more try.

For unknown writers, success is random. I’ve spent the last decade of my life studying book publishers, and everyone in the book publishing business knows how difficult it is to get published and to gain success.

During my research, Delia Falconer’s The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers (2006, Soft Skull Press) came up in a marketing and distribution meeting. On mention of the novel, the 20 or so people around the room let out sighs of agony and grief. Falconer’s book, the book they all adored so much, had failed to find the audience they agreed it deserved. They loved it so much that while publishing and promoting it they had suspended what they knew: all hits are flukes. For books, quality and success are, at best, distant cousins of one another.

So, when picking books to read this summer, don’t reach for Harry Potter or One Hundred Years of Solitude. Rowling and Márquez don’t need you. Instead, spend your time reading authors who do need you: the future Rowlings’ and Marquez’s whom fate has yet to shine on.

Read the full article.

PhD candidate Alice Hoe featured in U of T News story on data-driven research

Alice HoePhD candidate Alice Hoe was recently featured in a U of T news item discussing the role of Big Data in research. Hoe has recently completed her dissertation on immigrant labour market outcomes and will shortly begin a postdoctoral fellowship at York University.  The U of T news piece coincided with a visit to the university from Navdeep Bains, the federal minister of innovation, science and economic development. The full article is available here. We have pasted an excerpt below.


Innovation minister visits StatsCan facility at U of T, emphasizes importance of data-driven research

Canada wants to go big on Big Data to boost innovation and inform policy-making – and researchers from post-secondary institutions like the University of Toronto will play a key role.

Navdeep Bains, the federal minister of innovation, science and economic development, delivered that message at a roundtable discussion Friday with U of T President Meric Gertler and researchers from U of T and McMaster University….

The discussion was held inside U of T’s Research Data Centre, a StatsCan-operated facility on the seventh floor of Robarts Library. The secure facility – users must receive special security clearance, no cellphones or cameras are permitted – makes detailed microdata available to U of T and other researchers on subjects ranging from Canadians’ health to their employment status. It’s part of the Canadian Research Data Centres Network (CRDCN), a network of 16 research data centre clusters located on university campuses across the country…

Alice Hoe, a candidate for a PhD in sociology at U of T, knows how access to the right data can shed light on important social and economic issues. She estimates she spent more than 1,000 hours in the U of T data centre studying labour and income data. Her research is focused on understanding how new immigrants to Canada fare in the job market – a subject she was drawn to after watching her university-educated parents struggle upon arriving in Canada from Taiwan.

“Basically what I’ve found is immigrants are more likely to be in bad jobs, and once they’re in these bad jobs, they’re more likely to stay in them than Canadians who are born here,” Hoe said in an interview earlier this week. “They are also more likely to fall out of employment.”

Economic underperformance among new Canadians is not a new phenomenon. But the situation appears to be getting worse, according to Hoe. She said the problem is tied to a shift in immigration patterns away from Europe toward Asia, Africa and Latin America, suggesting language issues, racial discrimination and challenges associated with the recognition of foreign education and professional credentials are all playing a role.

However, Hoe said it’s become increasingly difficult to get an accurate picture of how new Canadians are faring in the workplace because the survey she relied upon to do her research – the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics – was scrapped in 2011 and replaced with one that focuses on income.

“You wouldn’t know whether they have access to health and pension benefits, whether they’re unionized with collective bargaining,” said Hoe.

Read the full article.

Professor Clayton Childress looks under the cover in his new book on book publishing

Professor Clayton Childress has recently published Under the Cover: The Creation, Production, and Reception of a Novel, a book that goes behind the scenes of the literary world by following the life course of a single work of fiction from its beginnings in an author’s creative process through its transformation in the publishing process and its reception by readers. Based in part of Professor Childress’s doctoral research, the book looks at the novel as a cultural product that is both constructed and understood through social processes.

Earlier this year, Professor Childress gave an interview to UTSC News about the book that is available on the UTSC website. Princeton University Press includes the following blurb on their website.

Under the Cover follows the life trajectory of a single work of fiction from its initial inspiration to its reception by reviewers and readers. The subject is Jarrettsville, a historical novel by Cornelia Nixon, which was published in 2009 and based on an actual murder committed by an ancestor of Nixon’s in the postbellum South.

Clayton Childress takes you behind the scenes to examine how Jarrettsville was shepherded across three interdependent fields—authoring, publishing, and reading—and how it was transformed by its journey. Along the way, he covers all aspects of the life of a book, including the author’s creative process, the role of the literary agent, how editors decide which books to acquire, how publishers build lists and distinguish themselves from other publishers, how they sell a book to stores and publicize it, and how authors choose their next projects. Childress looks at how books get selected for the front tables in bookstores, why reviewers and readers can draw such different meanings from the same novel, and how book groups across the country make sense of a novel and what it means to them.

Drawing on original survey data, in-depth interviews, and groundbreaking ethnographic fieldwork, Under the Cover reveals how decisions are made, inequalities are reproduced, and novels are built to travel in the creation, production, and consumption of culture.

PhD student James Lannigan’s Theory and Society article probes Noam Chomsky’s internationally contested reputation.

PhD Student James Lannigan recently co-authored an article comparing the Canadian and US newspaper response to Noam Chomsky’s role as a public intellectual. James is in his 3rd year of PhD studies at the University of Toronto. For his dissertation research, he is currently studying entrepreneurial networks and examining how retailers display organizational identities online.

For this piece, James worked with his co-author, Professor Neil McLaughlin from McMaster University.  In his last year as an undergraduate, James received McMaster University’s Undergraduate Student Research Award and used the award to fund the research for this paper under the supervision of Professor McLaughlin. The article came out in 2017 in Theory and Society. Below is the citation and abstract.

Lannigan, J. & McLaughlin, N. Professors and politics: Noam Chomsky’s contested reputation in the United States and Canada. Theory and Society (2017) 46: 177. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-017-9293-3

There is an extensive literature comparing the politics, sociology and economics of the United States and Canada, but very little work comparing the role that public intellectuals play in the space of public opinion and how their ideas are received in both nations simultaneously. Noam Chomsky provides a theoretically useful example of an established academic and public intellectual whose reputation is deeply contested in both countries. Our comparative case study offers leverage to contribute to debates on the sociology of knowledge, reputations, intellectuals, and the politics of professors using data from six major Canadian and American newspapers from 1995–2009 and an innovative coding of media portrayal. Earlier work has demonstrated that Chomsky is discussed as a public intellectual more prominently in Canada than in the United States (McLaughlin and Townsley in Canadian Review of Sociology, 48(4):341–368, 2011). Here we examine the comparative construction of a “public intellectual” reputation in the context of significant political change. We document small differences between the Canadian and American receptions of Chomsky, show change in the patterns of portrayal and number of publications over time, and offer an analysis of differences between political attacks and consecrations. We demonstrate more engagement with Chomsky’s political view in Canada than in the United States, a rise in Chomsky’s fame post 9/11, and illustrate clear political patterns in attempts to marginalize him.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh’s new book asks what “whiteness” means for Iranian Americans

Professor Neda Maghbouleh has recently published a book exploring the racialization of Iranian Americans. The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race draws on ethnographic and archival research that Professor Maghbouleh began in her dissertation and postdoctoral research projects to show how Iranians navigate ambiguous identities in the American racial landscape.

The book’s publisher, Stanford University Press, includes the following blurb on their website:

When Roya, an Iranian American high school student, is asked to identify her race, she feels anxiety and doubt. According to the federal government, she and others from the Middle East are white. Indeed, a historical myth circulates even in immigrant families like Roya’s, proclaiming Iranians to be the “original” white race. But based on the treatment Roya and her family receive in American schools, airports, workplaces, and neighborhoods—interactions characterized by intolerance or hate—Roya is increasingly certain that she is not white. In The Limits of Whiteness, Neda Maghbouleh offers a groundbreaking, timely look at how Iranians and other Middle Eastern Americans move across the color line.

By shadowing Roya and more than 80 other young people, Maghbouleh documents Iranian Americans’ shifting racial status. Drawing on never-before-analyzed historical and legal evidence, she captures the unique experience of an immigrant group trapped between legal racial invisibility and everyday racial hyper-visibility. Her findings are essential for understanding the unprecedented challenge Middle Easterners now face under “extreme vetting” and potential reclassification out of the “white” box. Maghbouleh tells for the first time the compelling, often heartbreaking story of how a white American immigrant group can become brown and what such a transformation says about race in America.

Read more about the book and Professor Maghbouleh’s research on her website.

Professor Ellen Berrey’s new book puts employment civil rights litigation on trial

Professor Ellen Berrey and two co-authors have recently published a book showing how employment civil rights litigation in the United States works to reinforce the systems of privilege that the laws had set out to eliminate.  Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality uncovers the various obstacles in the legal system that disadvantage plaintiffs and perpetuate inequality in the workplace.

The book, co-authored with Laura Beth Nielsen and Robert L. Nelson, is published by University of Chicago Press. The book’s website provides the following blurb and book trailer:

On the surface, America’s commitment to equal opportunity in the workplace has never been clearer. Virtually every company has anti-discrimination policies in place, and there are laws designed to protect these rights across a range of marginalized groups. But, as Ellen Berrey, Robert L. Nelson, and Laura Beth Nielsen compellingly show, this progressive vision of the law falls far short in practice. When aggrieved individuals turn to the law, the adversarial character of litigation imposes considerable personal and financial costs that make plaintiffs feel like they’ve lost regardless of the outcome of the case. Employer defendants also are dissatisfied with the system, often feeling “held up” by what they see as frivolous cases. And even when the case is resolved in the plaintiff’s favor, the conditions that gave rise to the lawsuit rarely change. In fact, the contemporary approach to workplace discrimination law perversely comes to reinforce the very hierarchies that anti-discrimination laws were created to redress.

Rights on Trial Book Trailer from American Bar Foundation on Vimeo.

Doctoral Candidate Alexandra Rodney receives SAGE Teaching Innovations Award

Congratulations to PhD candidate Alexandra Rodney who  will be attending the ASA Section on Teaching and Learning’s preconference workshop as a recipient of the 2017 SAGE Teaching Innovations and Professional Development Award. The award is funded by SAGE publications and approximately twenty SAGE authors who donate their royalties to provide a fund to offset the costs incurred by graduate students and pretenure faculty of attending the preconference. The award seeks to “prepare a new generation of leaders in the sociology ‘teaching moment'” and is awarded based on 5 criteria:

  1. demonstrated commitment to teaching
  2. potential contribution to the workshop and benefit of attending
  3. depth of reflection on the dynamics of the classroom
  4. financial need
  5. proximity to first full-time college teaching position (recently entered or about to enter)

Alexandra will attend this year’s session which is called “Thinking Matters: Critical Thinking, Active Listening, and Evidence-Based Writing.”  Alexandra is passionate about teaching sociology. She has already participated in 35 teaching-related workshops and earned a Teaching Fundamentals Certificate from the University of Toronto.  She hopes that attending the preconference session at the ASA will help her develop community-engaged and experiential learning activities for students, especially those that are applicable for use in a variety of class sizes and heterogeneous groups.

Alexandra is one of 26 recipients of the SAGE Teaching Innovations Award and the only one from Canada. The full list and the list of sponsoring authors is available here.

U of T at the ASA

This year, 22 faculty members and 25 graduate students from Sociology at the University of Toronto are presenting papers at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association in Montreal. In addition to the people presenting papers, a number of our community are also participating as session organizers, discussants or journal editorial panel members. The meetings happen between August 12th and August 15th. We have listed the papers we’re presenting below in the order of their occurrence, with student presenters shown in italics. Note that some of the papers have unlisted co-authors from other universities. Please refer to the ASA Program for complete information.

Saturday, August 12th

Bill Magee, Optimistic Positivity and Pessimistic Negativity Among American Adults: Effects of Birth-Cohort, Age, Gender, and Race

Jaime Nikolaou, Teen Pregnancy and Doula Care: A Space for Feminist Praxis?

Andrew Nevin, Technological Tethering, Cohort Effects, and the Work-Family Interface

Andreea Mogosanu, Historical Change in Gender Differences in Mastery: The Role of Education and Employment

Ioana Sendroiu and Laura Upenieks, Gender ‘In Practice’: Rethinking the Use of Male Practice Players in NCAA Women’s Basketball

Emine Fidan Elcioglu, The State Effect at the Border: Avoiding Totalizing Theories of Political Power in Migration Studies

Paul Pritchard, A Bifurcated Welcome? Examining the Willingness to Include Seasonal Agricultural Workers in the Host Community

Yukiko Tanaka, Managing Risk, Pursuing Opportunities: Immigration, Citizenship, and Security in Canada

Gordon Brett, Feminist Theory and Embodied Cognition: Bridging the Disciplinary Gap

Mitch McGivor, Inequality in Higher Education: Student Debt, Social Background, and Labour Market Outcomes

Sarah Cappeliez, Wine Nerds and Pleasure-seekers: Understanding Wine Taste Formation and Practice

Katelin Albert, Negotiating State Policy in the Improvised Classroom: An Ethnographic Inquiry into Sexual Health Classrooms

Marie-Lise Drappon-Bisson, Tactical Reproduction in the Pro-Choice Movement in Northern Ireland: Alliance for Choice’s Path Towards Successful Tactics

Milos Brocic, Cultivating Conviction or Negotiating Nuance? Assessing the Impact of Associations on Ideological Polarization

Omar Faruque, Neoliberal Development, Privatizing Nature, and Subaltern Resistance in Bangladesh

Sunday, August 13th

Dan Silver, The Political Order of the City: Neighborhoods and Voting in Toronto, 1997-2014

Andreea Mogosanu and Laura Upenieks, Social Change and the Evolution of Gender Differences in Depression: An Age-Cohort Consideration

Markus Schafer, Religious Attendance Heterogamy and Partnership Quality in Later Life

Atsushi Narisada, Buffering-Resource or Status-Disconfirmation? How Socioeconomic Status Shapes the Relationship between Perceived Under-Reward and Distress

Josee Johnston, On (not) Knowing Where Your Food Comes From: Children, Meat, and Ethical Eating

Ann Mullen, Labored Meanings: Contemporary Artists and the Process and Problems of Producing Artistic Meaning

Lawrence Williams, Dilemmas: Where No Schema Has Gone Before

Patricia Landolt, How Does Multicultural Canada’s Ethnicizing Imperative Shape Latin American Political Incorporation?

Merin Oleschuk, Consuming the Family Meal: News Media Constructions of Home Cooking and Health

Sarah Shah, The Context of Birth Country Gender Inequality on Mental Health Outcomes of Intimate Partner Violence

Louise Birsell-Bauer, Precarious Professionals: Gender Relations in the Academic Profession and the Feminization of Employment Norms

Geoff Wodtke, Regression-based Adjustment for Time-varying Confounders

Monday, August 14th

Markus Schafer, The Role of Health in Late Life Social Inclusion and Exclusion

Kim Pernell, Institutionalized Meaning and Policymaking: Revisiting the Causes of American Financial Deregulation

Cynthia Guzman, Revisiting the Feminist Theory of the State

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Policing Race, Moral Panic and the Growth of Black Prisoners in Canada

David Pettinicchio, Beyond Employment Inequality: Wealth Disparities by Disability Status in Canada and the United States

Yangsook Kim, Good Care in the Elderly Care Sector of South Korea: Gendered Immigration and Ethnic Boundaries

Ioana Sendroiu and Ron Levi, Legality and Exclusion: Discrimination, Legal Cynicism and System Avoidance across the European Roma Experience

Lawrence Williams, Bounded Reflexivity: How Expectations Shape Careers

Irene Boeckmann, Contested Hegemony: Fatherhood Wage Effects across Two U.S. Birth Cohorts

Jennifer Chun and Cynthia Cranford, Becoming Homecare Workers: Chinese Immigrant Women in California’s Oakland Chinatown

Katelin Albert and Steve G. Hoffman, Undone Science and Canadian Health Research

Ronit Dinovitzer, The New Place of Corporate Law Firms in the Structuring of Elite Legal Careers

Melissa Milkie and Scott Schieman, Who Helps with the Homework? Inequity in Parenting Responsibilities and Relationship Quality among Employed Parents

Matthew Parbst, The Impact of Public Opinion on Policy in Cross-National Perspective

Tony Zhang, The Princelings in China: How Do They Benefit from their Red Parents?

Rania Salem, Structural Accommodations of Classic Patriarchy: Women and Workplace Gender Segregation in Qatar

Tuesday, August 15th

Patricia Louie and Blair Wheaton, Revisiting the Black-White Paradox in Mental Disorder in Three Cohorts of Black and White Americans

Jenna Valleriani, Breaking the law for the greater good? Core-stigmatized Organizations and Medical Cannabis Dispensaries in Canada

Martin Lukk, What Kind of Writing is Sociology? Literary Form and Theoretical Integration in the Human Sciences

Jerry Flores, Gender on the Run: Wanted Latinas in a southern California Barrio

Jean-Francois Nault, Determinants of Linguistic Retention: The Case of Ontario’s Francophone Official-Language Minorities

Luisa Farah Schwartzmann, Color Violence, Deadly Geographies and the Meanings of “Race” in Brazil

Jonathan Koltai and Scott Schieman, Financial Strain, Mastery, and Psychological Distress: A Comment on Spuriousness in the Stress Process

 

 

 

Recent PhD graduate Marie-Pier Joly to begin Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Göttingen

Congratulations to Marie-Pier Joly who will begin a postdoctoral research position at the University of Göttingen in August. Marie-Pier defended her dissertation,  Contexts of Exit and the Mental Health and Economic Incorporation of Migrants in Canada, earlier this summer under the supervision of Blair Wheaton, Patricia Landolt (co-supervisors) and Jeff Reitz. The thesis abstract is as follows:

My dissertation explores the impact of contexts of exit on the mental health and economic incorporation of migrants living in Canada, with a specific emphasis on the impact of armed conflicts and human rights violations in countries of origin. The first paper in my dissertation explores the impact of armed conflict according to varying defining characteristics such as severity of the conflict and intra- vs. inter-state focus and finds that migrants from countries with severe intrastate conflict have worse mental health than migrants from countries with no to minor armed conflict and the native-born. The impact of armed conflicts differs by gender, with women experiencing more depressive symptoms and men experiencing more anxiety symptoms. The second paper shows that the impact of armed conflicts is similar to, but does not replace, the impact of human rights violations in countries of origin. The impact of human rights violations is not more pronounced in situations of armed conflicts, and on its own, human rights violations have essentially similar long-term impact on the mental health of migrants as armed conflicts. Each of the first two papers demonstrates that armed conflicts and human rights violations in countries of origin often provoke multiple stressful life events and conditions during the life span that can have cumulative mental health consequences for migrants. The last paper in my dissertation explores the employment and occupational status of migrants from armed conflict countries. It finds that in spite of their high levels of education in Canada, migrants from armed conflict countries experience more difficulties in finding employment, particularly in the early years after migration, and in general achieve lower levels of occupational status, given their education, relative to other migrants and the native-born. When migrants come from countries in conflict, there appears to be an additional discount applied to their job market options after migration. Specifically, education completed prior to migration translates less often into employment success in this group.

At the University of Göttingen, Marie-Pier will study the impact of armed conflict on the mental health of migrants from Muslim-majority countries who live in Canada, the United States, France and Germany. In this project, she will consider the simultaneous impact of variation in the existence of internal conflicts in countries of origin with variation in the context of reception. While there, Marie-Pier will also contribute to a collaborative research project conducting survey research on new migrants and refugees in Germany.

 

Professor Neda Maghbouleh interviewed about Syrian refugee families by Canadian Family

Neda MaghboulehCanadian Family magazine recently ran an article featuring an interview with Professor Neda Maghbouleh. Professor Maghbouleh is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities on the Mississauga campus. The article asks how Canadians can help Syrian refugee families as they settle in Canada. Professor Maghbouleh’s answers draw from the SSHRC-funded study she is currently conducting with Professors Melissa Milkie and Ito Peng that investigates the mental health challenges faced by Syrian refugee parents.

The full interview is available on the Canadian Family website. We have posted an excerpt of it here.

Making Canada a Home: How Canadians Can Help Syrian Families

Syrian families face cultural, financial, and emotional challenges as newcomers to Canada. Here’s how everyday Canadians can help.

Many parents know the difficulties that come with moving. Leaving behind friends, family, and neighbours can be hard for kids, and at times even heartbreaking. Meanwhile, adjusting to life in a new home can be a long process, taking anywhere from months to years.

Add to these factors a mix of cultural, linguistic, and financial barriers, and migrating families face a unique set of challenges. Yet Syrian families have shouldered theses same burdens as refugees to Canada, and continue to do so, according to a study from the University of Toronto.

A number of these challenges stem from a lack of social resources. Since the launch of Canada’s resettlement program in 2015, sociologists Neda Maghbouleh, Ito Peng, and Melissa Milkie have interviewed Syrian mothers on how immigration has impacted their mental health. Many Syrian mothers expressed feelings of social isolation, with those under government sponsorships describing fewer social ties.

Over time, these feelings of isolation can take an emotional toll. “Uprooting your life to move from one home to another is already a very stressful life event,” Maghbouleh explains. “But for refugees, a sense of control over their destiny can feel elusive or undermined in a new land. So it’s crucial for Canadians to respect and support Syrian newcomers’ sense of agency, purpose, and self-confidence in the process of resettlement.

Read the full article.

Professor Steve Hoffman reflects on predictions for Artificial Intelligence

Steve G. HoffmanProfessor Steve G. Hoffman recently published a piece in Backchannels, the blog of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Backchannels publishes a variety of “less formal writings” on “the current and future state of the field or subfields within science and technology studies.” Professor Hoffman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga campus. His research studies the cultural politics of knowledge production.

The blog piece is available on the Backchannels’ webpage. We have posted an excerpt here:

AI’s Prediction Problem

Steve G. Hoffman
04 July, 2017

Artificial Intelligence is finding hype again. Big money has arrived from Google, Elon Musk, and the Chinese government. Global cities like Berlin, Singapore and Toronto jockey to become development hubs for application-based machine intelligence. AlphaGo’s victories over world class Go players make splashy headlines far beyond the pages of IEEE Transactions. Yet in the shadows of the feeding frenzy, a familiar specter haunts. Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking echo the worries of doomsayer futurists by fretting over the rise of superintelligent machines that might see humanity as obsolete impediments to their algorithmic optimization.

There is a familiar formula to all this. AI has long struggled with a prediction problem, careening between promises of automating human drudgery and warnings of Promethean punishment for playing the gods. Humans have been imagining, and fearing, their thinking things for a very long time. Hephaestus built humans in his metal workshop with the help of golden assistants. Early modern era art and science are filled with brazen heads, automated musicians, and an infamous defecating duck. [2] The term “robot” came into popular use in the midst of European industrialization thanks to Karel Čapek’s play, Rossum’s Universal Robots, which chronicled the organized rebellion of mass produced factory slaves. Robot, not coincidently, is derived from the Old Church Slavonic “rabota,” which means “servitude.” Overall, then, we find thinking machines in myth and artifact built to glorify gods, to explain the mystery of life, to amuse, to serve, and to punish. They were, and are, artifacts that test the limits of technical possibility but, more importantly, provide interstitial arenas wherein social and political elites work through morality, ethics, and the modalities of hierarchical domination.

Contemporary AI was launched with a gathering of mathematicians, computer engineers, and proto-cognitive scientists at the Dartmouth Summer Workshop of 1956. The workshop proposal named the field and established an expectation that “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.” The work that followed in the wake of this workshop institutionalized a tendency toward overconfident prediction. In 1966, workshop alum and co-founder of the MIT AI Lab, Marvin Minsky, received a summer grant to hire a first-year undergraduate student, Gerald Sussman, to solve robot vision. Sussman didn’t make the deadline. Vision turned out to be one of the most difficult challenges in AI over the next four decades. The vision expert Berthold Horn has summarized, “You’ll notice that Sussman never worked in vision again.” [3]

Expectations bring blessing and curse. Horn is among the now senior figures in AI who believe that predictions were and are a mistake for the field. He once pleaded with a colleague to stop telling reporters that robots would be cleaning their house within 5 years. “You’re underestimating the time it will take,” Horn reasoned. His colleague shot back, “I don’t care. Notice that all the dates I’ve chosen were after my retirement!” [3]

Researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford have recently stitched together a database of over 250 AI predictions offered by experts and non-experts between 1950 and 2012. Their main results yield little confidence in the forecasting abilities of their colleagues. [1]

Read the full article.