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Professor Dan Silver’s Report on Toronto’s Public Art Policy featured in UofT News

Professor Dan Silver was recently featured in the U of T News discussing Toronto’s public art policy. Professor Silver is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Acting Chair of Sociology at the UTSC campus. He recently co-authored a report titled Redefining Public Art in Toronto, in which he and his co-author Professor Sara Diamond, President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University, outline recommendations for improving the future of public art in Toronto. The report provides suggestions based on their extensive analysis of public art policy in the city and comparisons with other cities. Professor Silver’s research interests include social theory, cities, culture, and cultural policy.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below.

Toronto needs to adopt a fresh vision for its public art policy, says report co-authored by U of T expert

By Don Campell | Oct. 23, 2017

Toronto needs to develop a fresh vision for its public art projects and integrate public art in all future planning, says a new report on the subject.

“A renewed vision for public art is something that should be given priority, especially as Toronto tries to market itself and position itself as a cultural leader in the country and globally,” says Sara Diamond, president and vice-chancellor of OCAD University, who authored the report with the University of Toronto’s Dan Silver.

The authors and their teams, which included researchers from U of T and OCAD U, pulled together an exhaustive list of materials for the report, titled Redefining Public Art in Toronto. In addition to interviews with artists, architects, developers, politicians and other art experts in Toronto and Montreal, they relied on an inventory map of all public art projects completed in the city from 1967 to 2015, created by Ilana Altman.

They also looked at a host of public art policy documents for the City of Toronto and collected similar documents from 30 other cities around the world as part of a comparative analysis. The result? While there are areas where Toronto is doing well, there are clear areas where it’s falling behind.

Read the full article here.

Working Paper 2017-03

The Institutionalization of Sociological Theory in Canada

Cinthya Guzman, University of Toronto

Daniel Silver, University of Toronto

UT Sociology Working Paper No. 2017-03

November 2017

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

Full Article


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

U of T at the ASA

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

Saturday, August 12th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 13th

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawrence Williams, Dilemmas: Where No Schema Has Gone Before

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14th

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

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

Cynthia Guzman, Revisiting the Feminist Theory of the State

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

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

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

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

Lawrence Williams, Bounded Reflexivity: How Expectations Shape Careers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Congratulations to PhD Candidate Kristie O’Neill and Professor Dan Silver on ASA publication award

Congratulations to Kristie O’Neill and Daniel Silver whose article won the Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award for 2017 for the ASA Section on Consumers and Consumption. Kristie is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Sociology. She is currently working on her dissertation, A New Doctrine of Development which is supervised by Erik Schneiderhan, Dan Silver, Josee Johnston, and Zaheer Baber. Dan Silver is an Associate Professor of Sociology specializing in the sociology of culture and theory.

Their winning paper is “From Hungry to Healthy: Simmel, Self-Cultivation and the Transformative Experience of Eating for Beauty” published in the journal, Food, Culture & Society 20(1): 101-132. Please see the abstract below.

Kristie O’Neill and Daniel Silver. 2017. From Hungry to Healthy: Simmel, Self-Cultivation and the Transformative Experience of Eating for Beauty. Food, Culture & Society 20(1): 101-132.

We examine American Cosmopolitan in order to understand how specific foods have been linked to dominant forms of beauty. Three food-beauty nexuses emerge, namely moralism, strategy and holism. To understand how women engaged with these nexuses, we draw on Simmel’s “religiosity.” Simmel traced deeply-felt experiences like self-cultivation (beauty) through cultural objects (food) using religious imagery. In this respect, changing messages about diets suggest profound encounters with the limits of forms of beauty. But the conflict of culture is also apparent: it is difficult to create new forms of beauty or do away with gendered beauty standards altogether.

Professor Dan Silver writes in the Chicago Sun about Chicago’s vibrant scenes

Dan SilverProfessor Dan Silver recently co-authored a column in the Chicago Sun about the shift from neighbourhoods to “scenes” for understanding shifting dynamics in Chicago urban life.

Professor Silver is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Toronto, with undergraduate responsibilities at the Scarborough campus. His research examines, among other things, the causes and consequences of urban scenes.

Professor Silver co-authored the column with Terry Clark of the University of Chicago and it appeared in June 10th’s Chicago Sun. The article draws on research from Silver and Clark’s recent book, Scenscapes: how qualities of place shape social life. We have provided an excerpt below and you can read the entire piece here.

Once a city of neighborhoods, Chicago’s now about making the scene

Columnists 06/10/2017, 06:49pm
Terry N. Clark and Daniel A. Silver

Critics of big cities found new fuel for their fire with the recent news about Chicago’s population decline. In a new census report, the city of Chicago’s population declined by 8,638 from 2015 to 2016. This followed a loss of 4,964 the year before.

First of all, these are miniscule changes for a city of 2.7 million residents. And a closer look reveals a more complex story: there are big differences across neighborhoods and subgroups. The city is attracting tens of thousands of affluent, professional young people, many of whom do not leave for the suburbs when they marry and have children.

Traditional terms like “middle class” or “working class” no longer tell the whole story. New types of jobs are growing in health care, law and other knowledge-based jobs. In a city where “who you know” could once lead to a cushy public sector job, “What you know” is now also a path to success. These new jobs require far fewer people — there are fewer assembly lines to staff or trucks to unload — so raw population is less important than attracting knowledge-based workers.

Another big change is that people often choose cities by considering lifestyle amenities together with the job. Indeed many people accept lower pay for more amenities. The most important industry in Chicago today is entertainment, broadly defined to include restaurants, museums, cuisine, sports, concerts, nightlife and the lakefront.

This is a big switch for the former “hog butcher of the world.” Today, instead of canned pigs, Chicago produces more art school graduates than any other city in the country. Many stay after graduation, thus perpetuating the city’s thriving arts scene. The arts in turn attract others working in many fields.

Summer concerts, sports events and other entertainment outlets attract visitors, some of whom eventually move here. The result: the area around downtown Chicago has been a national leader both in attracting more new residents age 25 to 34 and in job growth. Some parts of the city have seen population double, others are stable and some are in decline. If we look closely, that’s simply how cities work.

We learned this and more while writing our new book, “Scenescapes: How Qualities of Place Shape Social Life.” It details many Chicago specifics by comparing how they vary in other locations, from Seoul to Paris to San Francisco. Chicago remains vibrant, although now less a group of ethnic neighborhoods and more a collection of scenes based on new interests as well as primordial roots…

Read more.


Mapping the Urban Scenescapes

Dan SilverCongratulations to Professor Dan Silver for his new publication Scenescapes: How Qualities of Place Shape Social Life co-authored with Terry Nichols Clark.

The book was published by the University of Chicago Press, which describes the book as such:

Let’s set the scene: there’s a regular on his barstool, beer in hand. He’s watching a young couple execute a complicated series of moves on the dance floor, while at the table in the corner the DJ adjusts his headphones and slips a new beat into the mix. These are all experiences created by a given scene—one where we feel connected to other people, in places like a bar or a community center, a neighborhood parish or even a train station. Scenes enable experiences, but they also cultivate skills, create ambiances, and nourish communities.

In Scenescapes, Daniel Aaron Silver and Terry Nichols Clark examine the patterns and consequences of the amenities that define our streets and strips. They articulate the core dimensions of the theatricality, authenticity, and legitimacy of local scenes—cafes, churches, restaurants, parks, galleries, bowling alleys, and more. Scenescapes not only reimagines cities in cultural terms, it details how scenes shape economic development, residential patterns, and political attitudes and actions. In vivid detail and with wide-angle analyses—encompassing an analysis of 40,000 ZIP codes—Silver and Clark give readers tools for thinking about place; tools that can teach us where to live, work, or relax, and how to organize our communities.

Cultural Scenes and Political Attitudes

Diana MillerDan SilverCongratulations to Doctoral Candidate Diana Miller and Professor Dan Silver who recently published an article on the importance of spatial cultural scenes for understanding political attitudes. This research benefited from funding from SSHRC. The full article can be accessed here and I include the citation and abstract below.

Diana L. Miller and Daniel Silver (2016) Cultural Scenes and Contextual Effects on Political Attitudes. European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology: 2 (3-4): 241-266 DOI: 10.1080/23254823.2016.1144480

Spatial variation in voting is well documented, but substantively meaningful explanations of how places shape individuals’ politics are lacking. This paper suggests that local cultural ‘scenes’ exert a contextual effect – a spatial effect not driven by demographic differences between individuals in different places – on political attitudes and sensibilities. We measure the local ‘scene’ of Canadian electoral districts (EDs) through an original, national database of amenities, which we code qualitatively to describe those amenities’ cultural attributes. We combine scenes measures with demographic Census data on each constituency, and individual-level data from a 2011 federal election exit poll. Using hierarchical linear models, we find that individuals’ political sensibilities are correlated with the ED-level cultural context in which they reside, controlling for demographic factors at both levels. We find that EDs with self-expressive scenes are correlated with left-leaning political attitudes, while EDs with locally oriented scenes are correlated with right-leaning political attitudes. We hypothesize that the mechanism underlying these findings is that individuals’ local cultural context subtly shapes their political sensibilities.