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 ( and Theoretical Criminology ( ), 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 ( ) and the Accessing Law and Justice research project (


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.

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.


Professor Zaheer Baber publishes photo essay: Making a Living in Neo-Liberal India

Professor Zaheer Baber has recently published a photo essay in The Citizen of India showcasing workers on the streets of India. The Citizen is an independent online daily in India with a combination of news and opinion pieces. Professor Baber’s essay connects the conditions of the workers on the streets in India with neo-Liberal policies. We have pasted an excerpt of the text below and the full story is available at the Citizen. Professor Baber is a Professor of Sociology who teaches at the Mississauga Campus.

Making a Living in Neo-Liberal India: A Photo Essay

“If I could tell the stories in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera”

 While the promised “tryst with destiny” indeed transformed the lives of many Indians, a large majority of men, women and children continue to strive and struggle against all odds.

Late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of course had no illusions about the challenges that lay after the formal end of colonialism. As he put it, the “future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving…the service of India means the service of the millions who suffer…it means the ending of poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity.”

Post-independence India, like most other nations that threw off the yoke of exploitative colonialism, has had more than its share of struggles, conflicts, the recurring blood-letting as well as the “incessant striving” for the betterment of the human condition in all its dimensions.

While few literally expect an ultimate and final eradication of poverty, disease and inequality of opportunity, such ideals are of course essential fuels for the “incessant striving” that Nehru spoke of. However, given the lack of land-reforms as well as the relative absence of any policies aimed at the redistribution of resources – material and symbolic – it is hardly surprising that pervasive social inequality not only persists but has worsened considerably over the years…

Read the full story