PhD candidate Lawrence Williams’ Frontiers in Sociology article considers Parsons’ role in contemporary sociological thought

Lawrence WilliamsPhD candidate Lawrence Williams  recently published an article in Frontiers in Sociology. His article demonstrates how the rejection of Parsons by many sociologists ironically influenced the development of an impersonal theory of action. Williams is currently writing his dissertation studying how individuals working in the field of customer service understand their careers and find meaning at work. This article is one of four that Lawrence has had accepted for publication in 2017.

We have posted the citation and abstract below. The full article is currently available through open access on the Frontiers of Sociology website.

Williams, Lawrence Hamilton. From Conscious Values to Tacit Beliefs: Assessing Parsons’ Influence on Contemporary Sociology. Frontiers in Sociology (2017) 2; http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fsoc.2017.00010. DOI=10.3389/fsoc.2017.00010

Much sociological research is now focused on demonstrating how culture both motivates individuals to act and provides them with justifications for their actions (Vaisey, 2009). However, I argue that this sociological work relies on a model of action that sees culture itself as driving action beyond individuals’ reflexive use of culture. I argue that it does so by conceptualizing the internalization of culture as pre-subjective and impersonal, essentially committing what is often deemed the Parsonian problem of diminishing the contingent nature of social action through the use of abstractions. Just as Parsons was charged with placing undue emphasis on various social systems rather than on persons, dominant strands of sociological inquiry overemphasize the salience of shared norms and schemas at the cost of individual perception. The major difference, however, is that while Parsons justified his focus on the system level by framing individuals as highly conscious and deliberate in their actions, contemporary sociologists tend to frame individuals’ actions as largely unconscious and reliant on situational logics. In doing so, the consciously and normatively overdetermined actor in Parsonian sociology is now unconsciously and situationally overdetermined in contemporary sociology, a perspective ironically anticipated and deliberately positioned against by Parsons himself. Thus, I assert that efforts to de-Parsonize the discipline have given rise to theoretical problems that need resolution. I demonstrate how utilizing some of Parsons’ key insights on the importance of simultaneously considering multiple levels of analysis when studying action could be a fruitful way to proceed.

Read the full article here.

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 the 2017 SSHRC PhD Fellowship Recipients

This year, eight of our PhD students received fellowships from SSHRC. Four received Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program—Doctoral Scholarships and the other four received SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships. 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.

2016-17 SSHRC Fellowship Recipients


Graduate student replacement imageAmny Athamny (SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship) for her project,    Keeping it all a Halal Muslim was never Harder; Identity Formation among Second Generation Muslim Canadians.

 

Graduate student replacement imageAndreea Mogoanu (Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship) for her project, Social Change and the Evolution of Gender Differences in Psychosocial Resources
Tyler Bateman (SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship) for his project, Who cares about nature? The environmental sociology of perception. Andrew Nevin (Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship) for his project, Understanding Chronic Digital Piracy Experiences in Canada

 

Milos Brocic (Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship) for his project, Negotiating Nuance or Cultivating Conviction? Assessing how Group Relations Shape Ideology Paul Pritchard (SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship) for his project, Precarious Transitions: Examining the Intersection of Non-Citizenship and Young Adulthood in the ‘New Economy.’

 

Patricia LouiePatricia Louie (Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship) for her project, Public attitudes towards employment discrimination claimants: Do race and gender matter? Lawrence WilliamsLawrence Williams (SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship) for his project, What Keeps Employees on the Job? Learning from Referred Employees

Recipients from previous years among our current students

Katelin Albert, Louise Birdsell Bauer, James Braun, Sarah Cappeliez, Amanda Couture, Meghan Dawe, Miranda Doff, Athena Engman, Melissa Godbout, Alice Hoe, Andreas Hoffbauer, James Jeong, Timothy Kang, Amy L. Klassen, Katarina Kolar, Mitchell McIvor, Gabe Menard, Jean-Francois Nault, Jaime Nikolaou, Merin Oleschuk, Marianne Quirouette, Alexandra Rodney, Kerri Scheer, Rachel Schumann, Sarah Shah, Anna Slavina, Yukiko Tanaka, S.W. Underwood, and Anelyse Weiler.