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Working Paper 2019-02

Decentering methodological nationalism to survey the chutes and ladders of precarious legal status trajectories

Patricia Landolt, University of Toronto
Luin Goldring, York University
Paul Pritchard, University of Toronto

UT Sociology Working Paper No. 2019-02

July 2019

Keywords: precarious legal status trajectories, methodological nationalism, survey design, administrative data, frontline epistemologies

Full Article


Methodological nationalism limits the ability of research to document and analyze the complexity of precarious legal status trajectories and their long-term impact on migrant socioeconomic outcomes and social inequality in general. We begin to address these issues by identifying the challenges of methodological nationalism for migration research. These include the sedentary bias that casts suspicion on ‘people on the move,’ and the temporal truncation and socio-spatial bordering that erase or render irrelevant pre-migration trajectories and transnational practices. Using the Canadian case, we argue that administrative data and immigration research examine state defined immigrants and selected, approved, legal status transitions.  However, they exclude precarious status migrants and their temporally indeterminate and potentially multi-directional trajectories.  This produces incomplete evidence and analyses. We detail the ways in which our research design process for studying precarious legal status trajectories has worked to decentre methodological nationalism. The process was characterized by 1) a frontline epistemology in which knowledge is created through engagement, interaction and exchange between academic researchers and other producers of knowledge; and 2) the operationalization of precarious legal status trajectories in a parsimonious survey instrument that is attuned to the directional and temporal indeterminacy of precarious legal status and the work of legal status.

Congratulations to Ph.D. Candidate Patricia Louie on receiving the Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the American Sociological Association’s Mental Health Section

Patricia LouieCongratulations to Patricia Louie whose sole-authored article, “Revisiting the Cost of Skin Color: Discrimination, Mastery, and Mental Health among Black Adolescents” was recently awarded the 2019 Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the ASA’s Mental Health Section.

Patricia published the article in Society and Mental Health based on analysis of the National Survey of American Life–Adolescent Supplement. Her broader research program bridges the sociology of race/ethnicity and health sociology to analyze the racialized processes underlying mental and physical health disparities.

In this article, Patricia examines the link between skin tone and mental health in Black adolescents and investigates whether it can be  explained by the unequal distribution of both stress exposure and personal coping resources. Her analysis shows that the deleterious mental health consequences of skin tone are observed only among Black adolescents with the darkest skin tone.  The article demonstrates how the unequal distribution of both discrimination and mastery make Black Americans with very dark brown skin particularly vulnerable to depression and DSM-IV mental disorder. She found this by treating skin tone as a categorical rather than a liner variable, arguing that findings that treat skin tone as a linear variable may be misleading because they suggest that the relationship between skin tone and health is gradational, where, in fact, it exists only for one category of Black adolescents. As Patricia makes clear in the article, the conclusions we make about health inequality depend on an accurate application of the measures we use.

In awarding Patricia this honour, The ASA’s Mental Health Section is recognizing that this innovative and informative article will stimulate future research on skin tone and mental health, and makes an important contribution to the field.

Citation and Abstract

Louie, Patricia. 2019. “Revisiting the Cost of Skin Color: Discrimination, Mastery, and Mental Health among Black Adolescents.” Society and Mental Health.

This article investigates the association between skin tone and mental health in a nationally representative sample of black adolescents. The mediating influences of discrimination and mastery in the skin tone–mental health relationship also are considered. Findings indicate that black adolescents with the darkest skin tone have higher levels of depressive symptoms than their lighter skin tone peers. This is not the case for mental disorder. For disorder, a skin tone difference appeared only between black adolescents with very dark skin tone and black adolescents with medium brown skin tone. Discrimination partially mediates the association between skin tone and depression, while mastery fully mediates this association, indicating that the impact of skin tone on depression operates primarily through lower mastery. Similar patterns were observed for disorder. By extending the discussion of skin tone and health to black adolescents and treating skin tone as a set of categories rather than a linear gradient, I provide new insights into the patterning of skin tone and depression/disorder.

PhD Candidate Anelyse Weiler’s research on craft cider and artisan farmers in National Post

Anelyse WeilerThe National Post recently reported on Anelyse Weiler’s dissertation research as part of a series reporting on “some of the most interesting” research presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in early June. Anelyse is currently a doctoral candidate in sociology, completing her dissertation, The Periphery in the Core: Investigating Migration, Agrarian Citizenship and Metabolic Rift Through a Case Study of the Apple.

We have included an excerpt of the National Post article below. The full article is available online here.

Craft cider renaissance driven by ‘artisans’ who escaped the knowledge economy

In her dissertation, researcher Anelyse Weiler says Canada’s craft cider industry could save small apple orchards and attract new farmers from urban areas

…Weiler, whose work primarily focuses on labour, immigration and ecologically sustainable food systems, spoke to 100 people from all aspects of the craft cider industry in the Pacific Northwest — around British Columbia, Oregon and Washington — and compiled the information into an extensive look at the craft cider industry in the area. She picked the cider industry because she thought it was a good microcosm to look at broader trends in the agriculture industry.

Weiler said apple farmers face a slew of challenges in their industry — like the toll of the physical labour on their bodies, the increasing consolidation of apple production companies into huge conglomerates, and the effects of climate change on their crops. Moving into cider production can help farmers maintain their rural lifestyle instead of getting out of it altogether.

Nielsen’s numbers show that cider sales peaked in the U.S. in 2015 at $548 million and have since hit a plateau. But Weiler says the interest in more regional varieties marketed to locals continues to rise.

“A lot of producers face this ultimatum: get big, get out or get niche,” Weiler said. “And craft cider industries are one way for people to get niche.”

While it does seem profitable, the idea of working on a farm doesn’t seem to be of interest to most young workers. According to Statistics Canada, the average age of the Canadian farmer is 55 and Weiler said it seems that will continue to rise.

However, Weiler found that craft cider producers were moving away from being labelled as “farmers” and instead preferred the more high-status label, “artisans”. The change places more of an onus on crafting a unique product and being part of a close community, effectively creating meaningful symbolism to the same work. She said some young workers are actually moving away from urban cities to join the industry…

Read the full article.

Atsushi Narisada to begin tenure track position at St. Mary’s University

Recent PhD recipient, Atsushi Narisada will begin a new position as a Tenure-stream Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. Atsushi recently defended his dissertation and will officially convocate in the fall of 2019.  His dissertation is titled The Social Antecedents and Consequences of the Sense of Distributive Injustice. He completed it under the supervision of Professors Scott Schieman (supervisor), Melissa Milkie and Geoff Wodtke. The dissertation abstract is as follows:

Roughly half of working adults in Canada and the United States report a sense of distributive injustice––that their earnings are unjustly too low. This evidence provides an impetus to document the antecedents and consequences of the sense of distributive injustice. More specifically, it encourages us to examine two fundamental questions in the study of distributive justice: (1) What do people think is just and why? (2) And, what are the consequences of the sense of injustice for individuals? Using population-based data, I address these questions through an interdisciplinary lens by integrating perspectives in the social psychology of distributive justice, the sociology of mental health, and occupational health psychology.

I assess the first question by fusing ideas in distributive justice and the work-family interface. I argue that the conceptualization of work-related inputs can be elaborated by considering the intersection of work and family roles. Specifically, I propose a model that delineates how excessive job pressures––and the ensuing role blurring behavior and work-to-family conflict––shape the expectation for greater rewards. My findings provide an updated account of the nature of work contributions for contemporary workers that shape their ideas of what they should justly earn.

The second part of the dissertation examines the consequences of under-reward, focusing on the situational factors that function as moderators. In one study, I show that the relationship between under-reward and job dissatisfaction is contingent on forms of security, such that the association is attenuated for those with high job and financial security, and for those employed in the public sector. The interpretation of the patterns for job security encourages the integration of the Job Demands-Resources Model and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In another study, I examine the ways in which two dimensions of SES––education and income––moderate the effects of perceived under-reward on mental and physical health. I test two competing hypotheses––buffering-resource and status-disconfirmation––that delineate the moderating role of SES. Taken together, this dissertation draws upon and integrates diverse theoretical perspectives to identify new forms of work-related contributions that shape perceptions of a fair reward and the situational factors that modify reactions to under-reward.

At Saint Mary’s University, Atsushi will be teaching quantitative methods, sociology of work, and sociology of mental health, and he looks forward to working with the students there. He will also continue his research on the antecedents and consequences of justice evaluations in the workplace. He is looking to expanding his research program by drawing upon qualitative interviews on the experience of under-reward at work.


Advice for New College Students from Two Sociologists

This piece was originally published in 2013 for The Society Pages. It’s still relevant today. See the full post here.

Screenshot_22Congratulations to everyone starting college this semester! College can be a bewildering new challenge, but a bit of advice can go a long way. Below are some of the secrets of college success from us: two sociologists — one from an open-access four-year school and one at a private liberal arts school — with over 15 years of college teaching combined.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to get straight As from the get-go.

College is a unique institution with its own rules and skills. You will not simply get an A because you are “smart.” Getting an A is a combination of effort, prior knowledge, and experience, so being smart at college means learning a specific skill set. If you are in your first year, you may find that you must work harder to get the same grade as a senior who has much more experience at excelling in college classrooms and, thus, knows better how to do it. Be patient with yourself. Acknowledge that there will be a learning curve and give yourself some time to climb it. In the meantime, look forward to when you will be the one who knows exactly what to do.

Sometimes studying hurts and that’s a good thing.

The mind is like a muscle: if you use it, it becomes stronger. You can improve your emotional intelligence, your reasoning skills, your mathematical ability, how quickly and effectively you absorb new information, and more. But it isn’t necessarily fun. Like working out your body, working out your mind can be uncomfortable, even painful. You’re not really challenging and improving your mind unless it hurts a little. So you may find that learning can sometimes feel kind of like suffering. This is normal. It doesn’t mean that you’re not smart, it means that you’re getting even smarter.

Memorize the phrase “pluralistic ignorance.”

Research shows that most college students misperceive their peers’ behaviors and attitudes. They think drug and alcohol use is higher than it is and that their peers are less concerned about it than they are. They also tend to think that everyone else might be having more fun and more sex. We suspect this is even worse now that everyone stalks each other on social networks. Keep in mind the possibility that studying a lot, having other responsibilities, and not partying all the time is normal. Because it is.

Read the rest here.

U of T Sociologists at the 2019 ASA

This year, 71 faculty members graduate students from Sociology at the University of Toronto are participating in the Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association in New York City. In addition to the people presenting papers, a number of our community are also participating as session organizers, discussants or journal editorial panel members. The meetings happen between August 10th and August 13th. We have listed the papers we’re presenting below by the day of the presentation, with student and recent grad presenters shown in italics. Please refer to the ASA Program for complete information.

Saturday, August 10th

Ellen Berrey, U.S. Universities’ Responses to Hate Speech Incidents and Free Speech Politics and the Implications for Inclusion Policy

Yvonne Daoleuxay, The Most Canadian Neighborhood Ever: Social Disciplining and Driving in the Greater Toronto Area

Ethan Fosse and Jason Settels, Population-Level Variability of Happiness Trends in the United States

Chris Kohut, Unanticipated Gains in Homeless Shelters: A Study Examining the Social Networks of the Homeless Population

Ron Levi (with Holly Campeau of U of Alberta and Todd Foglesong of U of T, Munk School), Legality, Recognition, and the Bind of Legal Cynicism: Experiences of Policing During an Unsettled Time

Matthew Parbst, Gender Equality, Family Policy and the Convergence of the Gender Gap in Depression

Kristin Plys, Politics and Poetics in Lahore’s Pak Tea House during the Zia Military Dictatorship (1977-1988)

Markus Schafer (with Matthew Andersson of Baylor University), Looking Homeward with the Life Course: Early Origins of Adulthood Dwelling Satisfaction?

Sunday, August 11th

Philip Badawy and Scott Schieman, When Family Calls: How Gender, Money, and Care Shape the Family Contact and Family-to-Work Conflict Relationship

Irene Boeckman, Work-Family Policies and Working Hours’ Differences Within Couples After Childbirth

Lei Chai and Scott Schieman (with Alex Bierman of U of Calgary) Financial Strain and Psychological Distress: The Mediating Effect of Work-Family Interface

Clayton Childress, Shyon Baumann, Jean-Francois Nault (and Craig M. Rowlings from Duke University), From Omnivore to Snob: The Social Positions of Taste Between and Within Music Genres

Ethan Fosse (with Fabian T. Pfesser of U of Michigan), Bounding Analyses of Mobility Effects

Susila Gurusami, Carceral Complicities: Holding Institutions of Higher Education Accountable for Our Carceral Crises

Julia Ingenfeld, Parents’ Division of Housework and Mothers’ Labor Force Participation: Result of Selection and Assortative Mating?

Jonathan Kauenhowen, Framing Indigeneity: A comparative analysis of Indigenous representation in mainstream and Indigenous newspapers

Yangsook Kim, Doing Care Work in Korea Town: Korean In-Home Supportive Service Workers in Los Angeles

Kim de Laat, De-stigmatizing flexible work arrangements: The promises and pitfalls of buy-in from ideal working fathers

Chang Zhe Lin, Social Capital, Islam, and Labor Force Outcomes: Explaining Labor Force Outcomes among Muslim Immigrants in France

Martin Lukk, Fracturing the Imagined Community: Income Inequality and Ethno-nationalism in Affluent Democracies

David Pettinicchio and Jordan Foster, A Model Who Looks Like Me: Representing Disability in the Fashion Industry

Ashley Rubin, Target Populations or Caught in the Net: How Race and Gender have Structured Prison Reform Efforts Throughout American History and What it Means for Reforming Mass Incarceration

Ioana Sendroiu, Imagination, from Futures to Failures

Sarah Shah, Gendering Religious Reflexivity in Minority Groups: The Case of Pakistani Canadian Muslims

Michelle Pannor Silver, Embodiment and Athletic Identity

Lawrence Williams, How Career Identity Shapes the Meaning of Work for Referred Employees

Dana Wray, The Causal Effect of Paternity Leave on Fathers’ Responsibility for Children

Monday, August 12th

Katelin Albert, “The decision was made for me. I’m okay with that”: HPV Vaccine and Adolescent Girls’ Selves

Monica Boyd and Shawn Perron, The Vietnamese Boat People in Canada: 30 Years Later

Gordon Brett, The Embodied Dimensions of Creativity

Soli Dubash, “My House Is Your House”: Genre Conventions, Myspace Musicians, and Music Genre Self-Identification

M. Omar Faruque, Privatizing Nature: Resource Development and Nationalist Imaginaries in Bangladesh

Fernando A. Calderon Figueroa,Trust thy Neighbour, but Leave Up the Hedges: Trust in the Urban Scene

Vanina Leschziner, The Specter of Schemas: Uncovering the Meanings and Uses of “Schemas” in Sociology

Patricia Louie, Race, Skin Tone and Health Inequality in the U.S.

Neda Maghbouleh, Anti-Muslim Racism and the ‘MENA’ Box: Expulsions and Escapes from Whiteness

Gabriel Menard, Latent Framing Opportunities for Movements and Counter-movements: The US Network Neutrality Debate, 2005-2015

Sebastien Parker, ‘Both roads lead to Rome’: Pathways towards commitment in a far-right organization

Kim Pernell, Imprinting a Risky Logic: Graduate Business Education and Bank Risk-Taking

Sagi Ramaj, The Homeownership Attainment of LGB Immigrants: The Role of Social Relationships

Jeffrey Reitz (with Emily Laxer of York U and Patrick Simon of INED), National immigration ‘models,’ social welfare regimes, and Muslims’ economic incorporation in France and Canada

Ioana Sendroiu and Andreea Mogosanu, Stigma spillover and beyond: Resistance, appropriation, and counter-narratives in stigmatized consumption

Tahseen Shams, The Precariousness of South Asian Muslim Americans: Geopolitics, Islamophobia, and the Model Minority Myth

Lance Stewart, The Judgment of Objects: The Constitution of Affordances through the Perceptual Judgment of Digital Media

Laura Upenieks, Reassembling the Radius: Trust and Marginality across East-Central Europe

Tuesday, August 13th

Milos Brocic, Higher Education and the Development of Moral Foundations

Jerry Flores (with Janelle Hawes of U Washington-Tacoma and Kati Barahona-Lopes of UC, Santa Cruz), What are the challenges of girls in involved in the foster care and juvenile justice system?

Ethan Fosse (with Christopher Winship of Harvard University), Bias Formulas for Mechanism-Based Models: A General Strategy for Estimating Age-Period-Cohort Effects

Angelina Grigoryeva, An Organizational Approach to Financial Risk-Taking: The Role of Firm Compensation Plans

Cinthya J. Guzman, Rethinking Boredom in (Inter)action

Andrew Nevin, Cyber-Psychopathy Revisited: An Alternative Framework for Explaining Online Deviance

Laila Omar, “What would my future be?”: Conceptualization of the “future” among Syrian newcomer mothers in Canada

Natalia Otto, The violent art of making do: Gendered narratives of criminalized girls in Southern Brazil

Laura Upenieks and Ron Levi (with John Hagan of Northwestern University), The Palliative Function of Legality Beliefs on Mental Health



Congratulations to Professor Ron Levi, named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques

Professor Ron Levi has received the honour of being named a Chevalier in l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques. The title is an honour bestowed by the government of France in recognition of those who have made major contributions to French culture and education. France’s oldest civilian decoration, the award was presented to Professor Levi at a ceremony at the Munk School on April 26, 2019.

Professor Levi’s work focuses on the role of justice during political junctures and times of global change. In much of this research, he has built on perspectives gleaned from French sociological traditions and expanded these to encompass issues of global justice, atrocities, urban crime, and human rights. His work ranges from studies of professional trajectories and organizational strategies in the fields of international criminal law and human rights, to research on urban crime and insecurity, and the relationship between law and experiences of recognition gaps among minority communities. He collaborates extensively with French scholars in his work on global justice institutions, including work published in leading outlets in France. Levi has also spoken in public and academic fora on the aftermath of terrorism in France, on current challenges of antisemitism, and on the French principle of vivre ensemble.

In receiving this honour, Levi is particularly commended for his leadership in developing and establishing links with French institutions. While serving as Deputy Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs, Levi most notably spearheaded an initiative to create a dual degree between the Munk School and Sciences Po Paris. Instigated in 2017, the dual program sees students complete both a Master in Global Affairs from Munk and a Master in Public Policy from the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs. This innovative dual degree program is among the first of its kind at UofT, and provides students with the advantages of studying under both faculty at the University of Toronto and at the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs, and anticipates ever further collaboration between the two institutions (read more about this program here).

In the celebration to receive this honour, Levi related his connections to France and its interconnections throughout his own personal and professional trajectories, and through biographies that are both individual and collective. Read more about Professor Levi’s connection to what he identified as a “Global France” and his receipt of this award in an interview published in U of T News here.



Recent PhD Graduate Laura Upenieks to begin Tenure Track position at University of Texas, San Antonio

Recent PhD recipient, Laura Upenieks will begin a new position as a Tenure-stream Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas in San Antonio. Laura recently defended her dissertation and will officially convocate in the fall of 2019.  Her dissertation is titled Probing the Religion-Health Connection: Integrating Insights from the Life Course Perspective and Social Networks and she completed it under the supervision of Professors Markus Schafer (supervisor), Andrew Miles and Scott Schieman.

Laura’s dissertation abstract is as follows:


While the balance of existing evidence suggests that religion is positively related to health and mental health, the nature of this relationship is complex, with religiosity found to have positive, negative, and null associations with various forms of health. While much progress has been made in revealing this complexity, there are several promising directions that can illuminate currently understudied aspects of this relationship. This dissertation further probes the religion and health connection by integrating the life course perspective and the religious dimensions of people’s close social networks.

I argue that the premise that earlier life conditions affect later life outcomes contains an underlying logic generalizable to the domain of religion. Using longitudinal data, Chapter 2 explores the potential long-term health effects of religiosity in the childhood home, and finds that children brought up in highly religious households have a higher risk of mortality than those socialized in more moderately religious households. Extending the findings of Chapter 2, Chapter 3 uses over 35 years of prospective panel data and expands on the life course perspective by considering religious accumulation—the consequences of remaining (ir)religious—as opposed to increasing or decreasing religious attendance, what I term religious mobility. Taken together, results suggest an enduring influence of childhood religiosity on health and mortality, and a beneficial impact of continuity of frequent religious practice over the life course. Health behaviors, particularly smoking, largely mediate the relationship between childhood religiosity and health.

Finally, Chapter 4 examines why network religiosity may promote or detract from well-being. Social connection is often offered as the reason for why religion (broadly defined) is beneficial for health. Using nationally representative egocentric network data, this chapter indicates that various dimensions of network members’ religiosity—shared religious tradition, discussion of religious matters, and exchange of prayer support—have different implications for mental health. These associations, moreover, are contingent on respondents’ own religiosity.

Considered as a whole, this dissertation broadens the vast body of work assessing the complex relationship between religion and health by offering insight into when and why religion may shape health, in both positive and negative ways.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is a large public university with a strong research and teaching mandate.  The sociology department has research strength in both the sociology of health and healing and the sociology of religion, two areas that complement Laura’s research. In addition to furthering her research agenda in aging and the life course, and religion and health, Laura also expects to teach courses on aging and the life course, medical sociology, and quantitative methods.

Congratulations to PhD student Andrea Roman Alfaro, recipient of Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

Congratulations to Phd student Andrea Roman Alfaro, who recently learned that she was awarded one of the 2019 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships!

Vanier Canada Scholarships are among the most prestigious scholarships available to graduate students studying in Canadian institutions. Vanier scholars are chosen based on their academic excellence, research potential and leadership potential and demonstrated ability. The program seeks and recognizes scholars who “demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health.”

Andrea has just completed her second year of PhD studies in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Prior to this, she completed a BA in Sociology and Government at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and an MA in Sociology, with an specialization in social policy and development at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, Peru. Andrea has already conducted research in Peru on privatization of education, education policies and programs, citizenship education, and gender inequality in academia. This work has resulted in publications (including one book, two book chapters, and one journal article) and through it she served as the Executive Coordinator of Grupo Sofia, an organization that promotes gender equality in the social sciences academia in Peru.

Andrea received the award based on her track record and the promise of her proposed dissertation project, Navigating the Multiplicity of Violence: Women’s Experiences of Violence in Peru.  The faculty members supervising Andrea’s dissertation are: Jerry Flores, Phil Goodman, Judy Taylor and Randol Contreras. Andrea’s work breaks new ground by conducting research on Peru and Latinx populations and the different ways in which violence, incarceration and the criminal justice system produces and reinforces social inequalities.

The following abstract provides a summary of her dissertation plans.


Latin America is one of the most violent regions of the world, with a homicide rate 10 points higher than the global average. Most research on violence in Latin America has studied men’s participation in gangs, drug trafficking, guerrilla movements, and urban violence, obscuring women’s experiences with violence in their homes and broader communities. Research that has studied women’s experiences with violence has focused on gender violence, fostering a division between the study of violence in the street and the home. This division has created a limited understanding of violence, making crime and delinquency the focus of public outrage and government intervention, while overlooking how violence against women is related to these public issues. This study aims to show how violence on the street and in the home are connected by asking: how do women in marginalized urban neighbourhoods make sense of and cope with everyday forms of violence?

In marginalized neighbourhoods, different forms of violence—crime, delinquency, domestic and gender violence, police harassment, and poverty—affect family and community relationships. Because of their role as caretakers, women are overburdened with the task of developing strategies to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. As a result, women’s experiences in dealing with violence inside and outside the home are essential for understanding how different forms of violence are connected. I will explore these connections by conducting ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with women and men for one year in a marginalized urban neighbourhood located in Callao, one of the most violent provinces of Peru. This study hopes to contribute to the discussion on how violence arises and is perpetuated and how to improve the situation of Latin Americans who live under the threat of violence.

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 postdoctoral 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

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.