Congratulations to recent PhD Kim de Laat, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy

Kim de LaatCongratulations to Kim de Laat, who recently graduated with her PhD and began a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Gender + the Economy (GATE) in the University of Toronto. Kim’s dissertation title is The Shape Of Music To Come: Organizational, Ideational, And Creative Change In The North American Music Industry, 1990-2009. She completed her doctorate under the supervision of Shyon Baumann (chair), Vanina Leschziner, Damon Phillips and Judith Taylor. Her dissertation abstract is as follows.

Dissertation abstract

This dissertation examines the relationship between occupational roles, and creativity, uncertainty, and change in cultural industries. Over the course of three chapters, it uses regression, discourse, and content analysis, as well as in-depth interviews with professional songwriters and music industry personnel to analyze collaborative dynamics and collective sensemaking throughout the transition to digital production in the North American music industry. The first chapter develops meaning-centric measures of creativity to analyze how collaborative strategies shifted throughout the transition to digital production. It demonstrates empirically that musical diversity and innovation operate as countervailing forces – innovative forms can be devoid of diverse content – and calls attention to how limited examinations of cultural production are if the outcomes of interest are misspecified. Failing to attend to artistic form and content renders cultural objects no different from non-cultural phenomena, and leads to impoverished interpretations of institutional dynamics. Chapter 2 identifies how discourse is used to assess new technology and make sense of one’s place within a changing organizational landscape. It demonstrates that the patterned use of analogies and metaphors inform sensemaking and sensegiving efforts based on one’s occupational role. Moreover, a focus on the constraints posed by occupational membership on discursive framing elucidates the conditions under which exploitative or exploratory searches for solutions to organizational change are pursued. While the music industry has undergone massive change, creative labourers are accustomed to working under conditions of uncertainty since such industries experience high rates of failure. To this end, Chapter 3 examines how professional songwriters manage routinized uncertainty in post-bureaucratic work settings. It identifies two conventions that help manage ongoing uncertainties. Namely, equal authorship and professional conciliation mediate tensions between present-day conflict and desires for future success. They allow jurisdictional challenges and varying productivity to be accommodated, and rewards to be distributed in a manner deemed fair. This chapter challenges the notion that post-bureaucratic forms of work organization can be characterized wholesale as either cooperative or conflict-driven. In effect, conflict and cooperation are mutually constitutive within such organizational forms. Collectively, the dissertation chapters advance our understanding of endogenous cultural processes that occur within creative and institutional fields undergoing technological change.

At the Institute for Gender + the Economy, Kim is extending her interest in how actors make sense of change to include a consideration of gender inequality in the workplace. She is conducting a comparative organizational ethnography in order to examine how changing cultural beliefs about parenthood within workplace cultures inform employees’ perceptions and use of family-friendly practices, such as flextime and parental leave.


Congratulations to Jenna Valleriani, postdoc researcher at BC Centre on Substance Use

Jenna VallerianiCongratulations to Jenna Valleriani who will begin a postdoctoral research position at the British Columbia Centre On Substance Use (BCCSU) in January 2018. Jenna defended her dissertation,  ‘Staking a Claim’: Legal and Illegal Cannabis Markets in Canada, in December under the supervision of  Candace Kruttschnitt, Patricia Erickson and Ronit Dinovitzer. The thesis abstract is as follows:

Dissertation Abstract

This study explores the emergence of the legal medical cannabis market in Canada and examines its impact on the wider medical cannabis market. The growing research investigating entrepreneurship and emerging markets have often failed to consider the identity narratives of the entrepreneurs across legal and illegal spaces and the importance of contextual influences, including wider social and political contexts. Drawing on a case study of cannabis entrepreneurs from illicit Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCDs) and legal Licensed Producers (LPs), I use 63 in-depth interviews, fieldwork, and primary and secondary sources, to provide a detailed account of the new industry’s emergence in 2014, which challenged an existing model of medical cannabis access. I explore the emergence of that market on a number of levels. In the first paper, I describe the rich history of medical cannabis access in Canada and the central role of MCDs in that process. By using the policy window framework to analyze two local-level responses to MCDs, I highlight the theoretical utility of using this approach to examine local-level drug policy initiatives and reform. The second paper investigates how MCDs have survived in Canada for two decades without legal or mainstream public support as “core-stigmatized” organizations. By looking at the strategies MCDs employ to buffer stigma, share knowledge informally across organizations, and shelter themselves from police enforcement, I demonstrate how, compared to legal core-stigmatized organizations, MCDs must also navigate a host of legal risks because of their illicit status, which is tied to the source of their core stigma. In the third paper, I center on the experiences and narratives of the key players from both MCDs and LPs. I examine how these entrepreneurs understand and respond to the competitive landscape and draw on boundary work to claim jurisdiction over the medical cannabis market. Taken as a whole, I shift attention away from a moral assessment of the good itself (cannabis) and focus on the “practice of trade” (Anteby 2015). I also strive to highlight the complex nature of medical cannabis access in Canada and how wider social, historical and political contexts matter to the landscape as it exists today. Finally, I bring the entrepreneurs’ experiences to the forefront. In particular, MCDs are often dismissed in larger debates because of their illicit status. Important policy implications for non-medical
cannabis legalization and drug policy in Canada are also discussed, providing insight into the market.

At the BC Centre on Substance Use, Jenna will study the use of cannabis as a substitution for other illicit drugs among people who use drugs, along with other ongoing projects looking at opioid-related overdose and related interventions and treatment interventions for opioid and stimulant use. Jenna is also working with Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy as the lead researcher on a cannabis and youth education project as Canada moves towards cannabis legalization in 2018. 

Congratulations to Alice Hoe, post-doctoral visitor at York University

Alice HoeCongratulations to Alice Hoe who completed her dissertation and has recently begun a new post as a Postdoctoral Visitor at York University. Alice’s dissertation was called Working in ‘Bad Jobs’: Immigrants in the New Canadian Economy. She conducted her research under the supervision of Professor Monica Boyd, with her full committee including Professors Cynthia Cranford and Melissa Milkie. The dissertation abstract follows.

Dissertation Abstract

Beginning in the late 1960s, the Canadian economy experienced two significant changes: the growth of immigrants from non-traditional source regions and major economic restructuring. The work transformation significantly undermined the quality of work, leading to a growing number of ‘bad jobs’, characterized by low wages, lack of fringe benefits, and declining union coverage. The literature on work transformation, however, relies primarily on macro-level theorizing, and pays less attention to how new forms of inequality emerge from these changes. Alternatively, studies on immigrants’ economic integration tend to rely on single-dimension, orthodox indicators of economic outcomes, such as earnings, and many do not incorporate the context of the new economy. Among the studies that do, the use of small samples and qualitative measures limit the ability to identify patterns of inequality. My dissertation fills this gap in the literature by bringing together these two intricately intertwined, yet disparate sets of literature. I analyze how immigrants in Canada are disproportionately affected by the presence of ‘bad jobs’ in the new economy. I study immigrants’ disadvantage on three levels, in three independent papers: 1) likelihood of engaging in ‘bad jobs’, 2) differential long-term outcomes of engaging in ‘bad jobs’, and 3) household-level inequalities based on job quality and nativity status of the household head. I analyze the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, using both cross-sectional and panel data, as well as household-data, which I constructed from cross-sectional individual files. I find that immigrants experience significant disadvantage in the new Canadian economy: they are more likely to work in ‘bad jobs’ and stay in ‘bad jobs’ than the Canadian-born. These individual-level inequalities also translate to household-level inequalities in terms of likelihood of living low-income. The results from this dissertation draw attention to stratification within the new economy and incorporates the context of the new economy into the study of immigrant integration.

For her post-doctoral visitorship, Alice is working for a research partnership called ‘Closing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap” (website: under the direction of Professor Leah F. Vosko, Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work, Political Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. There, she is analyzing administrative and survey data and may also later be involved in constructing a cross-national research database on employment standards.

Congratulations to Professor Candace Kruttschnitt on being inducted into the Royal Society of Canada

Candace KruttschnittProfessor Candace Kruttschnitt is the latest Sociology Professor at the University of Toronto to become a fellow at the Royal Society of Canada. The Royal Society is, according to its mandate,  “Canada’s National Academy, the senior collegium of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists in the country.” It seeks  to “promote learning and research in the arts, the humanities and the natural and social sciences.”  Professor Kruttchnitt is the Department’s third faculty member to become a fellow of the RSC, following Monica Boyd who also served as President of the RSC Social Sciences division, and Professor Robert Brym.

Earlier this year, U of T News wrote an article highlighting Professor Kruttschnitt’s achievement along with that of Professor George Dei at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

We have posted an excerpt of the article in U of T News which was originally posted on the U of T News site on September 7, 2017 written by Jennifer Robinson. The full article is available here.

…Sociology Professor Candace Kruttschnitt (pictured left) is also thrilled to be joining the 133-year-old society, which is made up of the senior collegium of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists in the country.

“It’s totally an honour and unexpected – completely,” she said with a laugh. “To be recognized for your work any time is wonderful.”

Since the 1990s, Kruttschnitt has studied the incarceration of women by speaking with hundreds of inmates in the United States, England and the Netherlands, with surprising results.

Contrary to common perceptions, the risk factors for a pathway to prison are comparable for men and women. For example, male and female inmates identified as multi-problem property offenders commonly had mental health issues, substance abuse problems, substantial debts and were unemployed.

Both sexes in the multi-problem violent offenders category also shared a history having parents with “parental deviance,” with drug and alcohol abuse and their own brushes with the law. The parents started committing crimes before the age of 18, had debt and also were substance abusers.

“This is a controversial subject because many scholars and policy-makers believe we need a gendered approach to programming in prisons,” Kruttschnitt said, adding that if she was facing imprisonment anywhere in the world the Netherlands “would be the place for me. They’re just wonderful. It’s the most advanced place I’ve ever seen” in their treatment of inmates…

Read the full article.


Congratulations to Lawrence Williams, recipient of the 2017 Daniel G Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology

Lawrence WilliamsCongratulations to Lawrence Williams, winner of the 2017 Daniel G Hill Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Sociology at the University of Toronto.  The department awards the prize annually to an Ontario resident graduate student on the basis of the quality of a paper published between July and June of the award year.

Williams’s winning article asserts that many recent attempts to bring cognitive and social psychological concepts into sociological accounts of action have tended to portray action as strictly unconsciously motivated or consciously motivated. Through an analysis of conversations between individuals who are sexually attracted to minors, however, he finds that these individuals often reflect on and refrain from acting upon their sexual desires in ways which cannot be reduced to strictly unconscious or conscious means. As such, rather than frame pedophilia as a disposition which unconsciously determines thought and action, he argues that it can better be conceptualized as an intuition which individuals learn to reflexively manage and negotiate as they encounter resistance from those around them. He extends this finding to challenge work which asserts that dispositions or unconscious drives tightly guide action by drawing on psychological research on intuition.

This article is one of four that Williams has had accepted for publication in 2017. He is currently writing his dissertation titled, Meaning at Work: How Expectations Shape Careers

The prize honours Daniel G. Hill who was a Canadian sociologist, civil servant, human rights specialist, and Black Canadian historian.  He received his PhD in our department in 1960.  Dr Hill applied his insight and expertise in several important roles including his role as a researcher for the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto, serving as the Executive Secretary of the North York Social Planning Council, his position as  assistant director of the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation, and teaching in the department of sociology at the University of Toronto. In addition, he was the first full-time director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, later becoming the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner. From 1984 to 1989, he served as the Ontario Ombudsman. Dr Hill also founded the Ontario Black History Society, and authored a book titled The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada.  In 1993, he was awarded the Order of Ontario. A few years later, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Congratulations also go to our two honorable mention recipients for this award — James Braun and Gordon Brett.

Lawrence’s paper “Talk of Pedophilia: The Reflexive Management of Desire” appeared in the December 2016 volume of Deviant Behavior.  It is available to subscribers here 

Williams, L. H. (2017). Talk of pedophilia: The reflexive management of desire. Deviant Behavior, 38(12), 1406-1418. doi:10.1080/01639625.2016.1257880.

Sociologists have increasingly been using theories and models borrowed from cognitive science and psychology to address questions of personal motivation. One influential model is the dual-process model, a cognitive model which holds that individuals think and act either unconsciously and automatically, or consciously and deliberately. Through an analysis of conversations between individuals who are sexually attracted to minors, however, I find that these individuals’ sexual desires cannot be reduced to strictly automatic or deliberate means. Due to the taboo nature of this sexual preference in these individuals’ locales, their unconscious sexual desires are frequently called into question and made conscious.


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


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.

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.

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 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.

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.