U of T Sociologists at the CSA 2019

CSA logoThe Canadian Sociological Association is meeting this year in Vancouver in conjunction with the Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences from June 2- June 6.

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is an annual multidisciplinary gathering of scholars in Canada. It brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to share findings and learn from each other. This year’s congress is organized around the theme, “Circles of Conversation.” The CSA is one of more than 70 other organizations that will be holding their conferences in conjunction with the congress.

Sociologists from the University of Toronto will once again play prominent roles in the program of the CSA. Seventeen of our faculty members are presenting or organizing panels this year. Graduate student involvement ranges all the way from Master’s students to senior doctoral candidates who have recently graduated.  Take a look at this year’s program here.


Sociology students win SSHRC funding for their research

SSHRC logoThis year, three of our PhD students received fellowships from SSHRC. This funding will provide them with support for one to four years. Although all students in the University of Toronto graduate programs have a guaranteed funding package, receiving a SSHRC fellowship provides additional funding and allows them reduce the number of hours devoted to teaching and research assistantships so that they can focus on their dissertation research. All of our PhD students apply for external funding and receive training in developing proposals.

2018-19 SSHRC Fellowship Recipients

Phil Badawy
The Paradox of Control: Investigating the Nature and Implications of Time and Task Control with a Mixed-Methods Longitudinal Design
Taylor Price
Professional Songwriters in the Digital Age and their Audiences
Dana Wray
Reshaping Fatherhood through Policy: The Consequences of Parental Leave for Fathering Definitions and Practices

Recipients from previous years among our current students

Amny Athamny, Tyler Bateman, James Braun, Milos Brocic, Amanda Couton-Couture, Meghan Dawe, Miranda Doff, Marie-Lise Drappon-Bisson, Athena Engman, Melissa Godbout,  Cinthya Guzman, James Jeong, Timothy Kang, Hammand Khan,  Patricia Louie, Gabe Menard, Andreea Mogoanu, Jean-Francois Nault, Andrew Nevin, Jaime Nikolaou, Merin Oleschuk, Laila Omar, Sebastien Parker, Shawn Perron, Paul Pritchard, Kate Rozad, Kerri Scheer, Rachel Schumann, Ioana Sendroiu, Jason Settels, Sarah Shah, Anna Slavina, Yukiko Tanaka, Samia Tecle, S.W. Underwood, Laura Upenieks, Anelyse Weiler and Lawrence Williams.

Congratulations to PhD students Dana Wray and Laila Omar on receiving Best Student Paper Award and Honourable Mention from the Canadian Sociological Association

The Canadian Sociological Association (CSA) has awarded their Best Student Paper prize to PhD student Dana Wray, with an Honourable Mention going to another of our graduate students, Laila Omar. Both of the papers were originally papers written for the Second Year PhD Research Practicum course. Dana’s paper was titled,”Can Paternity Leave Policy Change Father Involvement? Evidence from the Natural Experiment of Quebec.” According to the review committee, this paper “stood out as being a particularly well designed analysis, with sophisticated methods and a critically important contribution to the sociological literature on gender, parenting and social policy.” Dana wrote the paper as part of the practicum course under the supervision of Professor Melissa Milkie and with the benefit of feedback from her peers and the instructors of the course, Professors Josee Johnston, Ron Levi and Phil Goodman.   She is also grateful for feedback from Professor Irene Boeckmann. Dana intends to submit the paper for publication this summer and was awarded a Program Summer Level Fellowship for that purpose. She will be presenting different parts of this project at CSA in June and at meetings of the American Sociological Association in August.


A growing body of research suggests that parental leave-taking is positively associated with increased father involvement. Yet, it remains unclear how particular leave policies impact different dimensions of father involvement, as well as the causality of this relationship. This study extends previous research with a causal test of whether reserved paternity leave policy shifts father involvement across three dimensions: engagement (routine or interactive caring for children), accessibility (time in children’s presence), and responsibility (solo parenting; time engaged with or accessible to children when the mother is not present). These dimensions are operationalized using time use data from the 2005 and 2010 Canadian General Social Survey. Exploiting the ‘natural experiment’ of the reserved paternity leave policy introduced in the province of Quebec in 2006 compared to the shared parental leave entitlement offered in the rest of Canada, this research uses difference-in-differences methods to estimate the causal effect of the paternity leave policy on father-child time. The reserved paternity leave policy led to a direct increase in fathers’ responsibility for children through solo parenting, but there is no evidence of a direct effect of the policy on fathers’ engagement or accessibility. Implications of the effects of family policies on family well-being and gender inequality are discussed.

In addition to Dana Wray, Laila Omar was also honoured by the CSA with an honourable mention for her paper, “‘I Just Dream of Things Being Stable’: Exploring How Physical Displacement Affects Syrian Refugee Mothers’ Perception of Time.” The committee wrote that it wanted to recognize this paper “as a particularly valuable work in sociology, one that stood apart in the crowd” and that “contributes to sociology’s understanding of the social construction of time, while offering important lessons on the relationship between trauma and motherhood.” This was the only honourable mention awarded in the 2019 competition.

Laila’s paper was also completed as a research practicum project in the course led by Professors Johnston, Levi and Goodman. Hers was under the supervision of Professor Neda Maghbouleh and benefited from feedback from Professor Rania Salem. Laila will be presenting different parts of her project at CSA in June and ASA in August, and already presented it at the U of T Anthropology Medusa Graduate Conference in March 2019. She also intends to submit the paper for publication this summer.


Scholars have focused significant attention on the geographical aspect of forced migration, and the consequences of refugees’ movement across space. However, they have not addressed the idea of the “future” for refugee populations who are forced to settle and to build a new life in a new country. In this article, I connect scholarship on forced migration and cultural concepts of the future in order to examine the temporal dimensions of forced migration. Using semi-structured interviews with 41 Syrian mothers who have recently arrived in Canada, this article investigates refugee mothers’ conceptualization of their and their children’s futures in Canada. I argue that forced migration and the status of “refugeeness” heavily shape newcomers’ perception of time in general, and of the future in particular. Mothers’ perceptions of the future are heavily shaped by cultural and religious orientations. Moreover, mothers deliberately “foreclose” their own timeline in order to focus on their children’s future in Canada. Finally, a sense of “scrambled timeline” is emergent: mothers cannot separate their future projections from the present nor from the past. These findings are significant for revealing how experiences of forced displacement and resettlement interact with culture to influence refugees’ perceptions of time and the future.


Congratulations to M. Omar Faruque, recipient of a SSHRC postdoc fellowship

Omar FaruqueOmar Faruque, who completed his PhD in the Department of Sociology in January 2019, has been awarded a two-year Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue research in the Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University for the 2019-2021 academic years. The SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship program is funded by the Canadian government and seeks to “support the most promising Canadian new scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and assist them in establishing a research base at an important time in their research careers.”

Omar’s doctoral dissertation titled, Mining Capitalism and Contentious Politics in Bangladesh, examines a multi-scalar mobilization against a planned mineral extraction project in Bangladesh. Drawing on a conceptual framework derived from critical development studies, social movement studies, and critical globalization studies, it analyzes three distinct scales of mobilization contesting developmental outcomes of a potentially environmentally destructive coal mine, neoliberal energy policies and privatization of resource extraction, and the contribution of multilateral institutions to the slow violence of resource extraction. Based on a set of in-depth interviews with local and national activists and transnational advocacy groups, it examines each of these scales (local, national, and transnational) through the lens of a specific theoretical approach. The dissertation research was supervised by John Hannigan, Zaheer Baber, Josee Johnston, and Erik Schneiderhan. Omar has published several papers on this project in Asian Journal of Social Science (forthcoming, June 2019), Journal of Contemporary Asia, Bangladesh Unnayan Shamikkhaya (in Bangla), The Extractive Industries and Society, Asian Journal of Political Science, and Social Movement Studies.

For his postdoctoral program, Omar will extend his research interests on globalization, development, and social movements. His new research project titled, Climate Crisis, Energy Democracy, and Environmental Movements in Bangladesh will analyze popular struggles over energy policies in the Global South. Existing scholarship on energy democracy emphasizes the effects of corporate power and the lack of political participation of local communities in shaping energy policy regimes. This project will contribute to this body of knowledge by focusing on the nature of state-society relations in the Global South. It will analyze the role of extractive political institutions, which pose significant challenges for civil society groups mobilizing to democratize public policies in the energy sector. This project will also examine the role of new actors in development. Using the conflict over the most contentious power generation project in Bangladesh (an India- Bangladesh joint venture to build a large coal-based power plant near the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world) as a case study, it will problematize the role of India – a ‘needy donor’ and a new actor in development interventions – particularly its commercial and political interests in South Asia.

Congratulations to recent PhD Alexandra Rodney, recipient of a SSHRC postdoctoral award

Alexandra Rodney, who completed her PhD in the Department of Sociology in 2017, has been awarded a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue research in the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University for the 2019-2010 academic year. The SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship program is funded by the Canadian government and seeks to “support the most promising Canadian new scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and assist them in establishing a research base at an important time in their research careers.”

Alexandra’s postdoctoral program is the next step after holding a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Guelph for the last two years where she conducted research on gender representation and leadership at the institution. Prior to that her dissertation work in the Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, resulted in a dissertation titled Healthy is the New Thin: The Discursive Production of Women’s Healthy Living Media. The dissertation was based on an analysis of women’s healthy living media, which is produced within a Western political context of neoliberalism, healthism, and obesophobia. This work endeavoured to understand how health, gender and culture intersect within the contemporary healthy-living mediascape. Among other findings, the dissertation shows how social media food discourses differ from those in traditional print media and how everyday women are able to position themselves as health experts that readers turn to for health guidance. This dissertation work was supervised by Josee Johnston, Shyon Baumann and Elaine Power.

For her postdoctoral program, Alexandra will extend her previous food studies research on community food cultures. The title of her postdoctoral project is School Food Program Mobilization: Sowing the Seeds of Food Justice Leadership. This project is shaped by a social movements theoretical framework and has two key objectives: 1) understanding the conditions that lead to school food program mobilization; and 2) understanding how school food programs build community capacity for social justice leadership. The research site for this project is the city of Toronto where food insecurity rates can be as high as 50% in some neighbourhoods. This project will be supervised by Dr. Mustafa Koc in Ryerson University’s Sociology department.


PhD graduate Tony Zhang and Professor Brym publish on Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries

Tony ZhangPh.D. graduate Tony Huiquan Zhang and Professor Robert Brym have published an article in Sociological Forum. The article studies how tolerance of homosexuality is jointly shaped by individual educational attainment and political freedom. The main finding is that in free societies, education is a liberalizing force as scholars expected. However, in non-free societies, education does not bring tolerance.

Tony Huiquan Zhang obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto in March 2018. He currently works at St. Thomas More College and the University of Saskatchewan as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. His research concerns public opinion research, social movements, and Chinese politics.

We have published a link to the article here. The abstract is reprinted below.

Tony Huiquan Zhang and Robert Brym (2019) Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries: Education, Political Freedom, and Liberalism, Sociological Forum, 34(2).

Researchers have repeatedly found a positive correlation between education and tolerance. However, they may be victims of an unrepresentative sample containing only rich Western liberal democracies, where political agenda have a liberalizing effect on curricula. In this paper, we specify the relationship between education and liberal attitudes by analyzing data on educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality (one dimension of liberalism) drawn from a heterogeneous sample of 88 countries over the period 1981–2014. We argue that nonliberal political agendas in some countries undermine the supposed universality of the positive relationship between educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality. In relatively free countries, education is indeed associated with greater tolerance. However, in relatively unfree countries, education has no effect on tolerance and in some cases encourages intolerance. Specifically, our analysis demonstrates that education is associated with tolerance of homosexuality only when regimes energetically promote liberal‐democratic values. The larger theoretical point is that the agendas of political regimes shape civic values partly via education systems. Especially in an era when democracy is at risk in many countries, it is important to recognize that education is not always a benign force.

Professor Neda Maghbouleh’s study highlighted by U of T News for International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was March 8th and U of T News celebrated this day by highlighting some of the excellent woman-centred research at the University of Toronto. Among these is the research conducted by Professor Neda Maghbouleh with her co-investigators Professors Melissa Milkie and Ito Peng. The project, begun several years ago, interviews both Syrian refugee mothers of teens and the teens themselves about their lives in Canada. The project seeks to understand how Syrian refugee mothers and teens experience family and integration-related stressors in the three to five years following settlement. We have pasted an excerpt of the U of T News story below; the full story is available on the U of T New site here.

Maghbouleh was also recently interviewed about this project for the UTM View to the U podcast, available here.

Women at the centre of U of T research on Syrian refugee experience in the Toronto region

Just over three years ago, the first wave of Syrians began arriving in Canada, fleeing the civil war that uprooted their lives and drove them to refugee camps across the Middle East and Europe.

Today, those families are continuing to adjust to life in Canada – navigating their way through learning a new language, the education system and our frigid winters.

Throughout the resettlement process, a group of University of Toronto researchers have been capturing an intimate portrait of what life has been like for Syrian newcomer families.

The research group – led by Neda Maghbouleh, an assistant professor of sociology at U of T Mississauga, along with Professors Melissa Milkie and Ito Peng – is exploring how the nature of Syrian newcomers’ successes and challenges change the longer they are in Canada.

The all-women investigator team was intentional, says Maghbouleh.

“I think that’s super cool,” she says. “We’re not re-inventing the wheel, but in many ways we’re putting feminist principles around leadership and organizing into practice.”

Women, too, are the focus of their research.

“We said, ‘What would it look like if we centred the stories of women – and not just women but mothers – as a lens into the fortunes of the family more broadly.’”

And that’s exactly what they did, interviewing 41 Syrian mothers twice within their first year in Canada.

Report from Professor Brym’s survey of Jews in Canada released

Robert BrymOn March 12th, Professor Robert Brym, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, along with Rhonda Lenton of York University and the Environics Institute for Survey Research released a report of findings from their recent survey of the Canadian Jewish community.  The study surveyed over 2,000 Jews in Canada and asked questions about their identity, beliefs and practices as Jewish people and found, among other things, that the Canadian Jewish community – the second largest community of Jews outside of Israel – is more cohesive than Jewish communities elsewhere, and particularly more cohesive than the Jewish community in the United States. U of T News wrote a piece on the report that we have excerpted here. The full piece is available here and the full report is available on the Environics website. Brym and his co-investigators also discussed the findings of their survey in a later piece on Canadian Jewish News here. More coverage of the report available at the Times of Israel and Canadian Jewish News, ha-Aretz (Jerusalem) and Tablet.com.

Unprecedented survey of Jews in Canada finds ‘exceptional cohesion,’ highlights paths for programming and education

In a few years, Canada’s Jewish population may exceed 400,000, making it the largest Jewish community outside of Israel and the United States.

And yet, the Canadian Jewish community is one of the least studied in the world – until now.

A new survey published today captures the identity, priorities, attitudes and values of Jews across Canada, and the results show a remarkably cohesive community overall, albeit one with its own internal divisions and associations between culture, religion and politics.

Conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with Robert Brym, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science, and Professor Rhonda Lenton, a sociologist who is president and vice-chancellor of York University, the study surveyed a representative sample of 2,335 Jews in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver, where 84 per cent of Canada’s Jews live.

Among many other things, “the survey indicates the general orientation that respondents have toward being Jewish – what they consider essential or important to being Jewish,” says Brym.

A copy of the 92-page report on the survey is available on the Environics Institute website.

The survey asked respondents to answer questions about participation in Jewish cultural traditions, belief in God or a universal spirit, marriage and the upbringing of children, prevalence of discrimination and harassment, political ideologies, association with Israel, participation in Jewish education, connection to local Jewish communities, knowledge of Hebrew and more.

Community is close-knit

A key finding of the survey is that the Canadian Jewish community is exceptionally cohesive compared to other Jewish communities outside of Israel.

“More secularized elements of Jewish communities are assimilating to the cultures of their country of residence at a fairly rapid rate,” says Brym. “The Canadian data suggests there is a vibrant community here that’s retained its cohesion pretty remarkably, much more so than in the U.S. or Russia, for example.”

Meet the Professor: Christian Caron

The Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto has a diverse faculty of professors who have a wide range of experiences. While they share backgrounds in sociology and its intersecting disciplines, each faculty member has individual experiences that have shaped their academic careers. In this series, we interview faculty at the St. George campus to acknowledge and share these stories, and get to know the influences behind their journeys.

Professor Christian Caron is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. He is well-known for his excellent teaching and currently serves as the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Toronto, St. George. He has particular research interests related to the Sociology of Crime and Socio-Legal Studies.

What led you to pursue a career in sociology?

I had long wanted to be a teacher. After spending time pursuing various other post-secondary degrees (history, philosophy, psychology), sociology felt “right.” It felt at the intersection of all my existing interests, and showed me the connections between all the different aspects of my life. It was a great source of personal insight, where I felt like I understood more and more about myself. But more than that, it opened my eyes to a whole world that was around me but I had either taken for granted or not noticed yet. It felt like I became awake. This was due to meeting the right professors at the right time who inspired me and push me to think and see the world in these novel ways. The more I learned about sociology the more it felt like a calling I needed to pursue. So combining my new found love of sociology with my long-standing interest in teaching made a career in sociology the right fit for me.

How does being a sociologist affect other parts of your life (if any)?

Being a sociologist is partly about seeing the world through a particular set of lenses, so it impacts every facet of my life. It’s given me extra insights into my roles as son, brother, friend, colleague, teacher, husband, father, and many others. I carry with me an appreciation for the importance of context, of seeing the link between my experiences and the experiences of many others, and caring about understanding those with whom I cross paths. Being a sociologist is not what I do, it is who I am.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students taking your classes and/or completing a major in sociology?

Use your time as a sociology major to both develop useful skills that you can take with you in the pursuit of almost any career (such as quantitative and qualitative research skills, critical thinking skills, writing skills, communication skills) AND to explore, learn, and expand your understanding on topics and issues that you are most passionate about. Your sociology major is a great time to engage in both skills building and exploration, in ways that will benefit you greatly for whatever might come next.

Working Paper 2019-01

Assembling the Politics of Noncitizenship: Local struggles to enforce and extend access to health care

Patricia Landolt, University of Toronto

UT Sociology Working Paper No. 2019-01

January 2019

Keywords: assemblages, boundary work, health care, noncitizenship, political contestation, politics of noncitizenship

Full Article


Shifts in global migration are sparking powerful political clashes over the terms of membership for noncitizens that are characterized by complexity, diversity and multivalence. Local struggles over the rights and entitlements of migrants contribute political, procedural and cultural content to a broader reconceptualization of the boundaries between and content of citizenship and noncitizenship. In this article I draw on documentary evidence, fieldnotes and interviews to examine how a network of individual and collective actors – centred around healthcare professionals, community social service agencies and migrant-rights activists – rewrites the social and symbolic boundaries of noncitizenship as they enforce and extend access to health care for precarious noncitizens in Toronto, Ontario. I propose the concept of noncitizenship assemblages as a framework for understanding the contemporary politics of noncitizenship as multi-actor, multi-scalar contestations that may challenge or subvert the distinctions between citizens and noncitizens. Tracing the components through which health care for precarious noncitizens is assembled in a liberal welfare state expands the empirical base of knowledge on the politics of noncitizenship. The noncitizenship assemblages framework captures the heterogeneous and often incommensurable components of political contestation the produce membership. It motivates consideration of contingency, impermanence and conditionality in the production of the boundaries of noncitizenship.

Congratulations to Meghan Dawe, recipient of the 2019 Dennis William Magill Canada Research Award

Congratulations to Meghan Dawe, who was recently awarded the 2019 Dennis William Magill Canada Research Award. The prize is awarded annually for a paper or dissertation of exceptional merit that deals with a sociological aspect of Canadian Society.

Meghan’s dissertation “Stratification in the Canadian Legal Profession: The Role of Social Capital and Social Isolation in Shaping Lawyers’ Careers” provides new evidence on emerging forms of stratification in the Canadian legal profession. By documenting how factors such as race/ethnicity, immigration status, and gender shape co-worker and mentorship relations, influence exposure to discriminatory practices, and ultimately affect the attainment of professional rewards, the dissertation sheds light on several important aspects of Canadian society. Meghan defended her dissertation in 2018 and is currently a Research Social Scientist at the American Bar Foundation, and Project Manager for the “After the JD” Study of Lawyers’ Careers. She is also teaching  Law and Society at Northwestern University. Meghan has co-authored articles published in the Canadian Review of Sociology, the British Journal of Criminology, and the International Journal of the Legal Profession, and has a forthcoming article in Law & Social Inquiry.

The abstract of her dissertation is as follows:

The North American legal profession has traditionally excluded marginalized social groups via formal entry barriers and other social closure mechanisms. While many of these obstacles have eroded over time and the legal profession is more heterogeneous today than in the past, formal and informal obstacles maintain the ongoing professional dominance of white men from privileged social backgrounds. Although lawyers represent a powerful and elite social group, the legal profession’s internal hierarchies reflect the unequal distribution of status, opportunities, and rewards among its members, making it an important site for examining professional stratification. Using a national survey of a cohort of recent entrants to the Canadian legal profession, I examine stratification in the legal profession and the mechanisms that sustain workplace disparities and discrimination. I find that traditional hierarchies persist and that new lines of demarcation have emerged. Moreover, I find that social capital and social isolation are key mechanisms driving divergent outcomes and experiences for traditionally disadvantaged groups of lawyers in their early careers. Specifically, I find that spending time with partners and other senior attorneys increases earnings and decreases experiences of workplace discrimination; having a woman mentor and a higher proportion of racial and ethnic minorities in the workplace reduce the odds of experiencing discrimination; and having a racial/ethnic minority mentor increases the odds of expressing mobility intentions for lawyers working in private law firms. Workplace relationships operate as both assets and liabilities in lawyers’ careers; having partners notice and invest in you and being surrounded by coworkers and mentors who ‘look like you’ can bolster the careers of lawyers from traditionally disadvantaged groups, yet socially similar mentors can also exacerbate the consequences of outsider status if they too are outsiders within the profession. Thus, social capital both facilitates and constrains lawyers’ careers and stratification in the legal profession.



PhD graduate M. Omar Faruque on the links between neoliberal governance and social movements in Bangladesh

Omar FaruquePhD graduate M. Omar Faruque published an article in the Social Movement Studies.  The article analyzes the connection between national energy policy development in Bangladesh and the social movement that contested it.

M. Omar Faruque will receive his PhD in June, 2019. He successfully defended his dissertation entitled, Mining Capitalism and Contentious Politics in Bangladesh this January.

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

M. Omar Faruque (2017) Neoliberal resource governance and counter-hegemonic social movement in Bangladesh, Social Movement Studies, 16:2, 254-259, DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2016.1268957

Bangladesh’s energy sector institutionalized neoliberal policies in the early 1990s after a decade long implementation of structural adjustment policies suggested by the World Bank. These policies strengthened the role of foreign private capital and reduced the role of public enterprises. In spite of the country’s success in exploring and developing petroleum resources, the World Bank pushed for policy reforms to reduce the role of state-owned companies. Bangladesh signed several production sharing contracts with multinational energy corporations during 1993–1998. This resulted in the development of a counter-hegemonic social movement, the National Committee. Its activists made the energy sector the most contested national policy domain. Its direct action programs and other mobilization tactics transformed Bangladesh’s public sphere vis-à-vis energy politics. The National Committee caused the government to reverse its decision in some cases, but is far from achieving its main goal: increasing the capability of national institutions to maintain full ownership in natural resource management. Notwithstanding this limitation, the National Committee is a fascinating case of a counter-movement in the Global South contesting neoliberal resource appropriation..

PhD graduate M. Omar Faruque on mining and activism in Bangladesh

Omar FaruquePhD graduate M. Omar Faruque published an article in the Asian Journal of Political Science.  The piece analyzes the development of local community resistance to mining in Bangladesh. Faruque studied the Phubari movement and found that its success in opposing mining was largely because the activists worked with local communities and framed their action in a way that resonated with the local culture.

M. Omar Faruque will receive his PhD in 2019. He successfully defended his dissertation entitled, Mining Capitalism and Contentious Politics in Bangladesh this January.

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

M. Omar Faruque (2018) Mining and subaltern politics: political struggle against neoliberal development in Bangladesh, Asian Journal of Political Science, 26:1, 65-86, DOI: 10.1080/02185377.2017.1384928

Drawing on social movement scholarship, this paper analyses subaltern struggles against a multinational mining company. The Phulbari coal mine is the centre of contention between the mining company and local/national activists. Local concerns about the dispossession of lands and livelihoods and environmental destruction have been merged with a Leftist political agenda on the growing vulnerability of the state and national sovereignty in the Global South. A close examination of the movement’s discourses suggests that a broader political struggle against resource plunder and energy imperialism has been strengthened by local community resistance to an environmentally destructive coal mine. Based on in-depth qualitative interviews, I analyse how activists have created new meanings of the conflict to confront and delegitimize hegemonic discourses of capitalist development and modernity.

Recent PhD recipient, Marianne Quirouette begins new position as Assistant Professor of Criminology at the Unversite de Montreal

Recent graduate Marianne Quirouette will be starting a new position as Assistant Professor of Criminology this January at the Université de Montréal. Marianne completed her dissertation, “Risks, Needs and Reality Checks: Community Work with Disadvantaged Justice-Involved Individuals”, in 2017 under the supervision of Professors Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Paula Maurutto and Phil Goodman. Her dissertation drew from 105 interviews and two years of fieldwork focusing on the governance of ‘complex-need’ clients who are criminalized and depend on services offered by practitioners in and out of the justice system. Her research showed that the production, sharing and use of risk knowledges helps community practitioners address a variety of objectives and interests. Knowledge produced to inform coordinated responses is simultaneously used to protect practitioners and to advocate for clients and push other stakeholders towards penal, judicial and social change. Marianne showed how community practitioners contribute to penal surveillance and risk management – even serving as de facto sureties – while also generating resistance and illustrating the value of social and medical evidence from outside criminal justice fields. She published this research in Journal of Poverty (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10875549.2015.1094774) and Theoretical Criminology (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1362480617707951 ), with other manuscripts in progress.  

After defending her dissertation and graduating from the University of Toronto, Marianne received a Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship to work with Marie-Eve Sylvestre in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. There she extended her doctoral research by beginning a project studying criminal defense lawyers. For this work, she has documented how [30] defense lawyers work with marginalized clients who have experienced past trauma and injustice and/or face complex and intersecting issues (e.g., homelessness, mental health, substance use). Her work examines if, when and how defence lawyers manage social and therapeutic needs ‘with’ community practitioners and how they use and contribute to and court narratives and practices while representing clients. As a sociologist, Marianne is documenting how lawyers negotiate practice management, and engage with other stakeholders to manage evidence and arguments about the legal relevance of social context. She will continue this work as she embarks on the next stage of her career as an Assistant Professor. At the Université de Montréal, she will teach criminology courses related to social justice, including a graduate seminar called (In)Justice and the Penal System. Working with her new colleagues, Marianne has joined the International Centre for Comparative Criminology (https://www.cicc-iccc.org/en ) and the Accessing Law and Justice research project (http://adaj.ca/home).


Professor Candace Kruttschnitt named a juror for the Stockholm Prize in Criminology

Professor Candace Kruttschnitt has recently been selected to serve as a member of the International Jury of the Stockholm Prize Criminology. As a member of the jury, Professor Kruttschnitt will be one of the eleven jurors to select the recipient of the annual Stockholm Prize. She will be invited to attend the annual meeting of the Jury as a guest of the University of Stockholm, and will be introduced in the Nobel Prize banqueting hall (the Blue Room of the Stockholm Stadsthuset ) prior to the award of each Prize by either the Justice Minister or a member of the Royal Family.

The Prize has a permanent endowment now in excess of 50 Million SKR, which yields a Prize amount each year of 1,000,000 SKR or more. These funds were established jointly by the Swedish Parliament and a group of Swedish and overseas foundations. Since 2006, the Prize has been awarded annually to outstanding contributions to the science of criminology, or to the application of criminological research to the reduction or crime or the advancement of human rights.

Professor Kruttschnitt was selected as a juror based on her international reputation in Criminology. The co-chairs of the jury wrote that they felt honoured to have her on the Jury and commended her as “extremely active world-wide in her research and participation in criminological conferences,” stating also that they “value highly both her knowledge and her judgment.”

We congratulate Professor Kruttschnitt on this commendation and are confident that she will be a valuable asset to the committee.

Professor Michelle Pannor Silver on the Discontentments of Retirement in New Forbes Interview

Silver, MichelleProfessor Michelle Pannor Silver has recently been interviewed by Forbes Magazine on her book Retirement and Its Discontents: unfulfilling, rudderless and filled with a loss of identity, which focuses on the realities of retirement from a sociological perspective. Her book delves into the world of retired professionals who have found the transition to retirement challenging. She found that they often felt forced into retirement by family, friends and colleague members.

Michelle Pannor Silver is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus with joint appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health and Society (ICHS).  She also holds cross appointments at the Institute for Life Course and Aging and in the Department of Medicine. Her professional interests  include Gerontology, aging and the life course, retirement, pensions, health care expenditures, health information seeking behaviours and perceptions about aging.

The full article can be viewed here. We have posted an except below.


You asked what their retirement parties were like. Why? And what did you learn from that?

When I started talking with people about what marked their retirement turning point, they often pointed to the party leading up to it. One man, an academic physician, described it as being more like a funeral; he felt like he was sitting there and people were talking about him as if he had died and it was the end of his life.

He realized he had a lot of things he was still working on, if not his best work still to come. And he decided to focus on doing the research he sought to be his life’s work. The party sealed the deal.

He would tell me: ‘I’m retired and have a set of historical fiction novels I’ve always meant to read and I’m interested in.’ He’d try to pick up one of the books that was supposed to be for fun and just couldn’t do it. He’d immediately gravitate to the medical journals that were work-related.


“What a widely attacked experiment got right on the harmful effects of prison”-Professor Ashely Rubin Writes Article for The Conversation Canada

Professor Ashley Rubin has written an article for The Conversation Canada asking whether the critiques of the Stanford Prison experiment are missing the mark. According to Rubin, while the Stanford Prison Experiment has been widely criticized for its research design and execution, it effectively illustrates the harmful effects prisons have on both prisoners and prison workers.

Her piece discusses the robust prison research that found similar results as the Stanford experiment. Such research highlights negative effects such as high rates of depression, suicide, PTSD and anxiety along with the corruptibility that prisons have on those who live and work inside.

Professor Rubin is an associate professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities at the UTM campus. Her research interests include the dynamics of penal change, focusing on the introduction of new punishments in America and England from the seventeenth century through the early twentieth century.

An excerpt from the article is posted below.

In news articles, the Stanford experiment has been “debunked” and “exposed as a fraud.” Its findings have been declared “very wrong” and “fake.” It has been further criticized for experimenter interference, faked behaviour from participants and for research design problems, among other things.

These serious critiques have generated much discussion in academic circles and in news articles about what, if anything, we can learn from the experiment.

And yet, as someone who studies prisons, I’m struck by how much the Stanford Prison Experiment got right. A wealth of other research suggests prisons have serious detrimental effects on prisoners and prison workers alike.

What the research says

Living and working in prison is extremely stressful and demoralizing.

Some people are better at repelling these effects than others. Even so, prisoners and prison workers suffer from high rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, PTSD and other devastating conditions. For many prisoners, these conditions continue after prison and can be worsened by the transition into the free world.

Not just prisoners

Prison staff are also affected. The history of American imprisonment is also filled with examples of people with good intentions becoming “corrupted” by the prison.

Pennsylvania’s Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829. Progressive Philadelphia penal reformers designed Eastern to be more humane than other prisons, with prisoners’ physical and mental health in mind. They implemented a routine — combining work, education, mentorship and outdoor exercise — to benefit both prisoners and society. Finally, they sought to protect prisoners’ identities so they could reenter society without stigma.

Within five years of the prison’s opening, however, the penal reformers, now prison administrators, had betrayed their humanitarian goals.

Continue Reading…


P2P: Prevalence and Patterning of Mental Disorder in 3 Cohorts of Black and White Americans

Patricia LouieEvery student in the Sociology PhD program at the University of Toronto completes the Research Practicum course in their second year. This course involves each student working directly on a research project with a faculty member through the various stages of research and writing while also meeting with other graduate students in the course to tackle the hurdles of clarifying, strengthening, and sharpening one’s ideas in a journal-length research article. In this series, we highlight the practicum papers that went on to become published articles, and the students who wrote them.

Louie, Patricia and Blair Wheaton. 2018. “Prevalence and Patterning of Mental Disorder in 3 Cohorts of Black and White Americans Through Adolescence.” American Journal of Epidemiology. https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwy144.

Patricia entered the research practicum with an interest in the Black-White patterning of mental health. She had previously learned about the tendency for Black Americans to report similar or better mental health than White Americans in Blair Wheaton’s Mental Health seminar. The work of Dawne Mouzon, in particular, sparked her interest in whether the Black-White patterning of mental disorder would be observed in adolescent populations and across cohorts of Black and White adolescents. In the first year of her PhD, she started the analysis for this project under the supervision of Blair Wheaton. She presented preliminary research findings at The International Social Stress Conference in June 2016.

In September 2016, Patricia enrolled in the Research Practicum and began writing her paper. She appreciates how the practicum provided her the opportunity to present her research findings several times and she is grateful for the helpful comments she received from her practicum supervisors, Ronit Dinovitizer, Candace Krutschnitt, and Melissa Milkie as well as from students in her cohort. Patricia also presented progressive versions of the paper at the American Sociological Association and the Canadian Sociological Association in 2017. The comments received at these conferences helped to refine the manuscript.

In the fall, Patricia and Blair worked closely together preparing the manuscript for submission. Ultimately, they submitted the paper to American Journal of Epidemiology in December 2017, and it was accepted for publication soon after.

Patricia continues to explore the racial patterning of mental health in her work. Currently, Patricia’s research examines racial disparities in mental and physical health using multiple dimensions of race, including skin tone. In addition, she examines the counterbalancing role of social stressors and coping resources in explaining race and skin tone inequalities in health. Patricia uses single-country and cross-national perspectives and a range of quantitative approaches, such as event history models, logistic regression, structural equational models, and linear probability models, to explore the racial patterning of mental health in Canada and the U.S.

Congratulations to Professor Jooyoung Lee, recipient of Charles Cooley Book Award

Jooyoung LeeCongratulations to Professor Jooyoung Lee who recently received the Charles Cooley Book Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction for his book, Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central. Professor Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology with teaching responsibilities on the St. George campus. His research interests range from gun violence, health disparities, gangs, emotions, creativity, and Hip Hop culture.

Blowin’ Up provides an account of aspiring rappers who attended Project Blowed workshops in LA. The book explores the training behind rappers’ work to construct their style, as well as the meaning that rappers attach to their creative work.  The committee described Professor Lee’s book as “a superbly written and insightful five-year long ethnography of hip-hop artists in South Central Los Angeles.” They also noted that his book “offer(s) new avenues to interpret hip-hop as a meaningful and transformative art form.”

Congratulations to Professor Scott Schieman, recipient of Pearlin Award

Congratulations to Professor Scott Schieman who was awarded the 2018 Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health. The award was presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia by Professor Blair Wheaton, also of the University of Toronto.

Professor Schieman received the award based on the substantial contributions in theory and/or research that he has made to the sociology of mental health. Identified broadly as a leader in work-family stress, Schieman is an innovative researcher, a leader within the field, and a mentor to graduate students and junior faculty. Supported by over 1.5 million dollars in CIHR funding, Schieman has investigated novel research questions, elaborated and advanced new theoretical models, and informed practical knowledge through public engagement. His work on the sociological study of stress and the social psychology of inequality speaks to central issues for how we understand working and family lives.

The awards committee cited Professor Schieman’s work extending understanding of the stress process model and called him a “frontier scholar in the burgeoning industry of research on the spillover of work into the family realm, while also basing this work on the connection to stress in the stress process.” The citation also notes Professor Schieman’s broad influence and his integration of the sociology of mental health into other sociological domains including the sociological study of work,  stratification and inequality, neighborhoods and urban life, religion, social psychology, and the family.

Professor Schieman is a Full Professor of Sociology and the Canada Research Chair in the Social Context of Health. He currently serves as the Chair of the Department on the St. George campus.