Ariel Kenny explores the conditions of Toronto’s child care market and how climate change activists organize using social media in two articles in U of T Sociology Undergraduate Journal

Ariel Kenny authored two articles in the third volume of the Undergraduate Sociology Journal (USJ) published earlier this year. Their article “The family unfriendly city: The impact of public funding cuts against growing demand for child care in Toronto” reviews the child care market in Toronto in the wake of the 2019-2020 provincial budget cuts impacting the development of new daycare spaces. Their research compiled studies on the subject, government survey data, and Ontario child care policies to show how the budget cuts reduce access to accessible child care for low-income families and raise the overall cost of centre-based child care. Ariel discusses how these changes contribute to the argument that Toronto is a “family unfriendly” city that lacks the resources to adequately serve families in need even when families do qualify for child care subsidies. They suggest further study and exploration of a universal child care system is necessary to find alternative solutions for this problem.

Ariel’s second article “The climate change social (media) movement” examines the relationship between emotions related to climate change awareness and the practices environmental activists use to motivate collective action via social media. They depart from and extend upon Jem Bendell’s 2018 climate change paper Deep Adaptation, which links emotions and climate change and explores if and how emotional appeals are necessary for environmentalist organizing. Ariel progresses this argument by contextualizing the emotional barriers apparent in environmentalist organizing and discusses how social media practices may be used to overcome them. They frame these social media practices using sociological theories on social movements, alienation, and empathy rituals. They argue that social media can serve as a viable tool for environmental activist organization and acknowledge social media platforms’ effectiveness as needing further attention from social network and social movement scholars.

Ariel submitted these articles in their 5th and final year at U of T and graduated earlier this year.

Read both of Ariel’s articles in Volume 3 of the USJ here