The tri-campus department of sociology is committed to the fight against racism and to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The tri-campus department of sociology is committed to the fight against racism and to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. This includes hiring and retaining BIPOC faculty; diversifying our graduate students and facilitating an inclusive curriculum; and creating a culture and climate based on respect, free of racism. While much of this work falls to department leadership (the Graduate Chair and Chair of each campus), it is only possible when all members of our community – students, staff, and faculty – commit to the challenging and critical work of building a dynamic and inclusive department, university, and society.

Professor Choo recently co-authored an op-ed on Inside Higher Ed entitled ‘Addressing Anti-Asian Racism in the University’ and has been active in organizing and participating in events on the subject of Anti-Asian Racism

Hae Yeon ChooProfessor Hae Yeon Choo has been active in bringing awareness to anti-Asian violence in the academic community.  Professor Choo recently co-authored an op-ed on Inside Higher Ed entitled ‘Addressing Anti-Asian Racism in the University’, co-organized and moderated the community roundtable ‘Anti-Asian Racism and Intersectional Violence’, an event sponsored by UofT Women & Gender Studies Institute, and participated in ‘Combatting Anti-Asian Violence’, a panel discussion at the University of Chicago.

Professor Choo and Professor Robert Diaz’ (Women and Gender Studies Institute, UofT) co-authored op-ed ‘Addressing Anti-Asian Racism in the University’ recognizes that anti-Asian racism has long been an issue at many North American institutions and recent statements condemning anti-Asian racism is not enough to combat the deeply engrained racism within these institutions. The article provides key steps that Universities need to take in order to truly combat anti-Asian racism.

We’ve included an excerpt of the op-ed below. Read the full article on Inside Higher Ed here.

Professor Choo recently co-organized the community roundtable ‘Anti-Asian Racism and Intersectional Violence’ at the University of Toronto.  Video of this event can be found here.

The College of Global Studies at the University of Chicago recently held a panel discussion on ‘Combatting Anti-Asian Violence’.  Professor Choo participated on this panel.  Video of this discussion can be found here.

 

Except from on Inside Higher Ed.

Addressing Anti-Asian Racism in the University

Official statements condemning it ring hollow if they don’t, in fact, stop the anti-Asian racism that already exists within many of these institutions, argue Robert Diaz and Hae Yeon Choo.

In light of the recent shootings in Atlanta that targeted Asian women, and the rise of xenophobic racism against Asian Americans and Asian Canadians during COVID, universities have released statements condemning anti-Asian racism. As immigrants who grew up in South Korea and the Philippines, the Atlanta shootings remind us of how Asian marginalization within and beyond North America shares intersecting histories.

Those histories include depictions of Asian Americans and Asian Canadians as “perpetual foreigners” or “model minorities” in order to conveniently gloss over complex practices of belonging and our diversity as a group. They also include the effects of colonialism and militarism on our respective countries, where white supremacy takes on different but equally dehumanizing forms. When understood through such histories, the Atlanta tragedy not only exposes the classed, gendered and sexualized violence that placed Asian women in harm’s way, but it also points to structural conditions that dictate the pathways that economically precarious immigrants must negotiate as they perform low-wage labor into their later years.

Mindful of those intersections, we see official university statements condemning anti-Asian racism as ringing hollow if they don’t, in fact, stop the anti-Asian racism that already exists, from its most mundane to its most systemic forms, within many of these same institutions. Anti-Asian racism can only be countered when the university values the diverse knowledges, histories and lived experiences that Asian community members bring. While the microaggressions and structural issues we point out pale in comparison to the violence wrought in Atlanta, we nonetheless see the crucial role that universities play in producing social transformation. With that goal in mind, we offer a list of suggestions to counter anti-Asian racism.

PhD student Rebecca Lennox recently published ‘“There’s Girls Who Can Fight, and There’s Girls Who Are Innocent”: Gendered Safekeeping as Virtue Maintenance Work’ in Violence Against Women

Ph.D. student Rebecca Lennox recently published ‘“There’s Girls Who Can Fight, and There’s Girls Who Are Innocent”: Gendered Safekeeping as Virtue Maintenance Work’ in Violence Against Women. Drawing on in-depth interviews with women residents of Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, the article investigates safety behaviours commonly practiced by women in public places, such as avoiding unlit spaces after dark. Showing that such strategies often paradoxically exacerbate women’s fear of violent crime, the article offers a new understanding of gendered safekeeping as a form of identity work that mitigates existential, rather than physical, threats in public places by marking women as risk-averse and thus above sexual reproach.

Rebecca is in her second year of the Ph.D. program in Sociology. Her doctoral research examines how race, class, and gender intersect to shape women’s embodied responses to police-produced gendered crime-prevention messaging in Canada. Rebecca’s research is supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, and a Doctoral Award from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

We have posted the citation and abstract of the article below. The full text is available here.

Lennox, Rebecca. 2021. “‘There’s Girls Who Can Fight, and There’s Girls Who Are Innocent’: Gendered Safekeeping as Virtue Maintenance Work”. Violence Against Women. Published online ahead of print you can read it here.

Abstract 

Women routinely practise taxing safety strategies in public, such as avoiding unlit spaces after dark. To date, scholars have understood these behaviors as means by which women bolster their physical safety in public. My in-depth interviews with women in Greater Vancouver, British Columbia suggest that, much less than reliably enhancing women’s safety, safety work often exacerbates women’s fear of violent crime and unreliably mitigates their exposure to violence. I thus interrogate the protective function of gendered safekeeping and reconceptualize women’s safety work as virtue maintenance work, theorizing that women practice risk-management in public places to attain the ontological security associated with evading subjectivities of gendered imprudence.

 

Professor Nicholas Spence’s research team recently published ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic: Informing Policy Decision-Making for a Vulnerable Population’ in the International Indigenous Policy Journal (IIPJ)

Professor Nicholas Spence’s research team recently published ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic: Informing Policy Decision-Making for a Vulnerable Population’ in the International Indigenous Policy Journal (IIPJ).  This article examines the Canadian Covid-19 response during wave one and hopes to guide policy decision-making as it affects our most vulnerable populations. The article states that rates of infection and death coincide with patterns of social inequality mostly based on race and socioeconomic background. Indigenous Peoples and other racialized minorities have limited capacity for physical distancing due to factors such as inadequate housing, high-risk employment, and reduced access to health-promoting resources.  These factors have led to disproportionate risk that needs to be recognized and addressed if the Canadian policy makers are to truly fight against the virus effectively.

The article sets out to adequately assess the unique vulnerability of Indigenous Peoples in Canada by using a social diagnostic tool called the Community Well-Being (CWB) Index.  By using this tool in all levels of pandemic policy decisions, policy makers can better maximize impact and mitigate harm in their response.  The lessons needed to be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is that proactive measures will need to be made to eliminate socially unjust conditions to better address future social, health, economic and environmental challenges.

Professor Spence is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities on the UT Scarborough (UTSC) Campus. His research focuses on social inequality, health, and well-being. Professor Spence’s research spans multiple levels of analysis, using a number of research methods, examining a wide range of health and well-being issues, such as obesity, chronic disease, gene-environment interactions, safe water, infectious disease, pandemics, mental health, addictions, economic development, education, and labor markets. He has published various books and scholarly articles in journals such as the American Journal of Epidemiology, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Cancer, Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, amongst many others.

Professor Spence is affiliated with the Harvard University & Massachusetts General Hospital Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities. Also, he serves as the Associate Director of the Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium and Senior Editor of the International Indigenous Policy Journal.

We have included the research publication abstract below.  You can find the publication on the International Indigenous Policy Journal’s website here.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted society. Vulnerable populations are at heightened risk for exposure, as well as adverse health and social consequences. Policymakers are operating under difficult circumstances, making crucial policy decisions to maximize impact and mitigate harm, with limited scientific evidence. This article examines the pronounced vulnerability of Indigenous Peoples in Canada to the pandemic. We highlight the importance of moving beyond individual-level risk factors associated with COVID-19 by identifying and classifying Indigenous communities most vulnerable to the pandemic. We propose the use of a social diagnostic tool, the Community Well-Being Index, rooted in the social determinants of health, to predict community vulnerability and potentially guide policy decision-making in the fight against COVID-19.

Professor Jooyoung Lee shares his insights with the Washington Post, CTV Online, CP24, and CBC: Here & Now regarding the recent shooting in Atlanta

Jooyoung Lee

Much of Professor Jooyoung Lee’s research focuses on gun violence and how it impacts communities and marginalized groups.  With the horrific shooting events in Atlanta, Jooyoung shares his insights with several media outlets.

The Washington Post article “Shootings in Atlanta put focus on year of heightened anti-Asian violence in the West” discusses the alarming rise in anti-Asian hate crime all over the globe.  Professor Lee states that the mass shooting in Atlanta is not an isolated incident, rather an example of the increase of anti-Asian racism since the beginning of the pandemic in various Western countries. You can read the whole story at The Washington Post website here.

CTV News article “’It’s incredibly disheartening’: Asian-Canadians reeling from trauma after slayings in Georgia” looked at how the mass shooting has affected Asian-Canadians. Professor Lee explains that people can experience vicarious trauma from the news of tragic stories; especially stories relating to race and gender.  Exposure to social media has increased significantly becoming a part of our daily lives.  This means vicarious trauma from horrific news events has become an overwhelming issue.  You can read the article on the CTV News website here.

Professor Lee joined CBC Radio One to discuss the mass shooting.  Professor Lee shares his experience growing up close to where the shooting occurred and acknowledges that Asian-Americans have experienced overt racism and violence prior to the pandemic and it has only grown since then.  Anti-Asian racism, Professor Lee suggests, has been invisible to the public eye until recently. Though the discussion has been broadly about anti-Asian racism, Professor Lee states that this story needs to be looked at through an intersectional lens.  Typically, these acts of violence happen to Asian women at a much greater frequency.  Professor Lee suggests that there are many layers to this story that should be examined and learned from in multiple ways.  As for Canada, Professor Lee would like to see Canadians stop perpetuating the myth that racism is not a problem here and to confront the reality that it needs to be addressed.  You can listen to the full CBC interview here.

CP24 interviewed Professor Lee regarding the motivations of the Atlanta shooting.  Professor Lee explains that racism and misogyny are often interwoven.  Professor Lee uses Elliot Rodger, the mass shooter in the Isla Vista killings in 2014, as an example.  Rodger, seen as a leader in the incel movement openly advocated for white supremacy in his manifesto.  Professor Lee argues that cases like these should not be seen as a motivation of one or the other because they are often both.  You can watch the full interview here.

JooYoung Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto St. George campus, faculty member in the Centre for the Study of the United States, and Senior Fellow in the Yale University Urban Ethnography Project. His research interests are focused around how gun violence transforms the social worlds and health of young Black men in different contexts. His current work examines how murder transforms families and communities; how we can use videos to enhance research on interaction; and a collaborative SSHRC-funded study with Julian Tanner and Scot Wortley on youth experiences with guns in Toronto.

Professor Scott Schieman was recently quoted on the BBC website for the article “Why remote work has eroded trust among colleagues”

image of Scott SchiemanProfessor Scott Schieman was recently quoted on the BBC website in an article entitled, “Why remote work has eroded trust among colleagues”.  The article outlines how the ongoing remote work arrangements caused by the pandemic has led to a lack of trust between managers and employees.  The article explains that the lack of social interactions among managers and employees, a lack of training for remote management, and pandemic fatigue has all led to distrust in the workplace.

Professor Schieman explains that informal bonds help build trust in both verbal and non verbal ways that are often reinforced as a result of time spent with others and may not be necessarily related to work tasks completed.  Professor Schieman states that “We form and sustain social bonds this way, expressing verbal and nonverbal communication in ways that convey understanding, empathy and shared concern. There’s no way endless Zoom calls can replace the depth and quality of in-person human interaction. Professor Schieman adds that mediums such as video conference calls and increased email have limitations that can cause further distrust due to misunderstandings and misinterpretations that simple social cues would have cleared up in a normal workplace setting.

The article suggests several ways to build trust during the pandemic in an effort to create a healthy work culture and promote a productive working team.

Professor Schieman is the Canada Research Chair in the Social Contexts of Health, a Full Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Department of Sociology, St. George Campus. His research focuses on work/stratification, the work-family interface, stress, and health.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on The BBC website here.

Why remote work has eroded trust among colleagues
After a year of remote work, we now trust our colleagues less than before. Here’s what we can do to rebuild those bridges.

When the pandemic triggered mass workplace closures last spring, many companies were unprepared for what turned into an open-ended remote-work arrangement. For some, the extraordinary situation initially prompted a heightened sense of goodwill as workers juggled the demands of family and fine-tuned home-office setups. Yet as we now pass the one-year mark of virtual work, the shaky foundation of many company cultures is cracking to reveal a lack of trust among remote managers and employees.

Under better circumstances, trust begets trust; at the moment, experts are finding that the reverse is true. Without in-person interactions to bolster our professional relationships, there’s more room to make negative – often unfounded – assumptions about our colleagues’ behaviours. And, many supervisors haven’t been trained to manage a team remotely, causing them to fall into the trap of over-monitoring employees, which tends to backfire. All these factors are creating a cycle of virtual workplace distrust that’s exacerbated by pandemic fatigue and the struggle to sustain our mental health amid an extended period of uncertainty.

The dearth of trust isn’t something that will be magically fixed once the pandemic subsides, especially as businesses are considering adopting new models, from hybrid systems to a different kind of work week. The consequences of a culture of distrust are significant – including diminished productivity, innovation and motivation. But there are steps we can take to effectively build and repair trust, even from afar.

Distance breeds distrust

Before the pandemic, the seeds of trust were often planted at work without us even realising it – a greeting in the elevator, post-meeting small talk, complimenting a colleague’s haircut.

“Trust is built by spending time together, not necessarily around work-related tasks,” says Scott Schieman, chair of the department of sociology at the University of Toronto’s St George campus. “We form and sustain social bonds this way, expressing verbal and nonverbal communication in ways that convey understanding, empathy and shared concern. There’s no way endless Zoom calls can replace the depth and quality of in-person human interaction.”

Not only is it harder to build strong connections through video and audio calls, email and instant messages, but misunderstandings are likelier to arise from these mediums due to their limitations. “You might see a supervisor’s or team member’s facial expression on a Zoom meeting and misinterpret or appraise it in a negative way,” says Schieman. “You might be completely misreading it – maybe their kid was in the background doing something that annoyed them. In a physical shared space, you could better read those cues and clear them up.”

Professor David Pettinicchio’s new co-authored article “Partisanship fuels what people with disabilities think about COVID-19 response” was recently in the National Post

David PettinicchioProfessor David Pettinicchio’s new co-authored article “Partisanship fuels what people with disabilities think about COVID-19 response” was featured in the National Post.  Professor Pettinichio and Professor Michelle Maroto conducted a national survey of people with chronic health conditions and disabilities during the pandemic examining the added stress and isolation it has caused the marginalized group.  Part of the survey asked their opinions on the governments handling of the pandemic and found that regional and partisan political beliefs were the driving force in their attitudes towards the government response.  The assumption that the respondents would view the government’s response through the lens of their disabilities and health conditions because of the immense impact it has had on their lives was not the case.

David Pettinicchio is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities at UTM. His research focuses on social policy, social movements, and political sociology. He has recently begun research on how policy responses to COVID-19 have shaped public perceptions of government and policy, and how people with disabilities and chronic health conditions are economically impacted by the pandemic.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on The National Post here.

Partisanship fuels what people with disabilities think about COVID-19 response

Authors: David Pettinicchio, Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Toronto and Michelle Maroto, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Alberta

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada was touted as fast-acting in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. In March 2020, the federal government restricted travel, initiated lockdowns and enacted a taxable income support program, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB.

Cross-partisan consensus among Canadian leaders facilitated these COVID-19 countermeasures. Compared to the United States, Canada’s pandemic response seemed rather apolitical.

Public opinion polls throughout 2020 showed that most Canadians held favourable views of the federal government’s response to the pandemic. People’s attitudes varied more when it came to their views of their province’s response. This makes sense since provincial governments differed in how they dealt with social distancing, lockdowns and reopenings. All in all, and in the broadest sense, Canadians felt confident in their leaders in 2020.

But not all Canadians have been affected equally by the pandemic or by policy responses to it.

People with chronic health conditions and disabilities are already a marginalized group that experiences significant employment and financial barriers, as well as obstacles to accessing social and health services. Due to increased social isolation, they also experience significant declines in mental health. These were made worse by the pandemic.

What are the views of members of this group about the federal government’s response to the pandemic and what does this tell us more generally about Canadians’ attitudes about government?

Political views shaped perceptions

In June 2020, we conducted a national survey of people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. We asked them questions about how they thought the government was handling the pandemic.

We found that while disability and health status may indirectly shape views of government, regional and partisan political beliefs were the most important predictors of attitudes.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah discusses the role of police on CBC Radio One

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah recently discussed the role of police on CBC Radio One.  Professor Owuwu-Bempah believes that Canadians need to rethink the role of police and would like to see a detasking of police duties.  There needs to be a full understanding of what Toronto police do on a daily basis and the resources required to do these tasks. From this better understanding of the current role of police it can then be determined what tasks should be removed or adjusted.  In many instances, some of police duties are better suited for other agencies that have the appropriate training.  Professor Owusu-Bempah suggests first responders as an example of a more appropriate role to adequately deal with mental health crisis as the primary role and police would provide a secondary role as support in those instances.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

You can listen to the full CBC Radio One discussion here.

Professor David Pettinicchio’s new article “COVID-19 affects the mental health of those already most vulnerable in society” was featured in the Toronto Star

David PettinicchioProfessor David Pettinicchio’s new article “COVID-19 affects the mental health of those already most vulnerable in society” was featured in the Toronto Star.  Professor Pettinicchio examines the negative impacts from COVID-19 on those with disabilities and chronic health conditions.

In June 2020 Professor Pettinicchio’s research team surveyed Canadians with disabilities and chronic health conditions about the added anxiety, stress and despair brought on by the pandemic and posted their findings in the Disability and Health Journal.  The article uses the findings to show that many have experienced a significant increase in anxiety, stress and despair and those impacted economically by the pandemic were even more likely to report deteriorating mental health.

For many Canadians, the news of vaccinations, warmer weather and an easing of restrictions will help improve their mental health. Unfortunately, those with disabilities and chronic health conditions must remain isolated, cautious and will likely continue to feel the added stress and anxiety.  For Professor Pettinicchio, this means Canadians need to support public health investments in combating mental health issues, and need to include this marginalized group in the governments response to the pandemic.

David Pettinicchio is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities at UTM. His research focuses on social policy, social movements, and political sociology. He has recently begun research on how policy responses to COVID-19 have shaped public perceptions of government and policy, and how people with disabilities and chronic health conditions are economically impacted by the pandemic.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on The Toronto Star here.

COVID-19 affects the mental health of those already most vulnerable in society
By David Pettinicchio

Contributors
Michelle Maroto
Mon., March 1, 2021

Surpassing year one of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects on social and economic life have taken their toll on the mental health of many Canadians. But certain groups, left vulnerable due to larger structural failures, have felt the impact more than others. This is especially true for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions.

People with disabilities and chronic health conditions are more at risk of getting COVID-19, experiencing complications, and dying from the virus. They have been especially negatively affected by the economic downturn and have been largely excluded from government economic supports. And, social distancing measures have further isolated Canadians with disabilities cutting them off from friends, family, and care workers.

Last June, our research team conducted a national survey of 1,027 Canadians with disabilities and chronic health conditions to find out about changes in anxiety, stress, and despair and what specific pandemic-related factors are contributing to these. Our findings were recently published in the Disability and Health Journal.

We found that over one third of respondents reported increased levels of anxiety and stress, with about one fifth reporting growing levels of despair. This varied across respondents, though. Respondents reporting more severe disabilities and health issues were more likely to feel anxious, stressed and have feelings of despair.

Individuals worried about getting COVID-19 and those economically impacted by the pandemic were also more likely to report deteriorating mental health as well as those reporting feeling lonely and lacking a sense of belonging.

The pandemic continues to illustrate how disruptions to our ways of life negatively impact our mental health, but it also reveals how pre-existing health and socio-economic barriers experienced disproportionately by some Canadians make declining mental health even greater. Our results reflect a period when lockdowns were easing and the promise of a “return to normal” kept people feeling more hopeful. As the pandemic progressed, anxiety and stress have no doubt increased.

Congratulations to Professor Tahseen Shams, recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Pacific Sociological Association 

Congratulations to Professor Tahseen Shams, recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Pacific Sociological Association for her book “Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World.” The Distinguished Scholarship Award is granted to sociologists from the Pacific region in recognition of major intellectual contributions embodied in a recently published book or series of at least three articles on a common theme.

More information about her book can be found in the story below.

“Here, There, and Elsewhere”: New Book by Professor Tahseen Shams

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah speaks with Vassy Kapelos on Canada National Power & Politics – CBC News

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah spoke with Vassy Kapelos on Canada National Power & Politics – CBC News about the Federal governments new legislation to relax penalties for drug offences. Professor Owusu-Bempah believes a full repeal of the controlled drugs and substances act would have been preferred to avoid criminalizing people for possession because the marginalized and racialized are disproportionally targeted with these types of charges.  However, the new legislation is a step in the right direction and the mandatory minimums is the government signaling that it is doing something to curb drug possession charges.

Professor Owusu-Bempah would like to see an evaluation of the impact of this bill on the marginalized groups that are suppose to benefit from them.  These groups include people suffering from drug addiction as well as racialized Canadians.  Canada does not have good raced based data on the court system which makes it difficult to see if black and indigenous people are being treated fairly.

Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. His research focuses on the intersection of race, policing, and social justice. Professor Owusu-Bempah frequently provides commentary to public and governmental agencies, community organizations, and media outlets regarding topics of race, policing, and social justice.

You can watch the CBC panel interview here.

Professor JooYoung Lee recently spoke with Ginella Massa on Canada Tonight – CBC News

Jooyoung LeeProfessor Jooyoung Lee spoke with Ginella Massa on Canada Tonight – CBC News about Canada’s recent ban on targeted firearms. The Canadian government recently announced its plans to implement its voluntary gun buy back program.  Professor Lee expressed concerns over the effectiveness of this program.  He explains that voluntary gun buy back programs are often unsuccessful due to targeting the wrong gun owner.  Typically, these programs only receive guns from law abiding citizens looking for a small amount of money in return.  Illegal gun traffickers and illegal gun users are not the ones using this program.  Professor Lee added that the type of gun targeted in this program is the semi automatic rifle due to its common use in mass shootings in the US.  However, this does not address the problem in Canada since the majority of gun violent crimes are committed with the use of handguns.

Professor Lee suggested that to address gun violence the government needs to address the root causes of violence.  Social research shows that combating urban poverty and racial marginalization would reduce gun violence significantly.  The government should be investing in communities that are hit hardest by gun violence and create safety nets for urban youth in these areas.  Investing in educational opportunities, mentoring opportunities, and supporting community organizations that are already active would better address the issue.

Furthermore, a Canadian handgun ban needs to be at the national level.  Gun traffickers travel and will take advantage of areas within the country less suited to deal with gun trafficking.  Leaving the decision for gun bans up to municipal governments will only create loop holes that gun traffickers will exploit.  Professor Lee believes that parts of the bill that address all Canada-US border trafficking look promising and puts the country on the right track to reduce gun violence.

JooYoung Lee is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto St. George campus, faculty member in the Centre for the Study of the United States, and Senior Fellow in the Yale University Urban Ethnography Project. His research interests are focused around how gun violence transforms the social worlds and health of young Black men in different contexts. His current work examines how murder transforms families and communities; how we can use videos to enhance research on interaction; and a collaborative SSHRC-funded study with Julian Tanner and Scot Wortley on youth experiences with guns in Toronto.

You can watch the full CBC News interview here.

Congratulations to PhD student Dana Wray, recipient of the 2021 Dennis William Magill Canada Research Award

Congratulations to PhD student Dana Wray, winner of the 2021 Dennis William Magill Canada Research Award. The award is awarded annually for a paper or dissertation of exceptional merit that deals with a sociological aspect of Canadian Society. Preference is given for work that deals with macro-sociological topics.  

Dana’s paper “Paternity Leave and Fathers’ Responsibility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Canada”, published in the April 2020 edition of Journal of Marriage and Family, provides new evidence on how parental leave policies impact fathers’ involvement with their children. By applying a rigorous natural experiment design to a topic of ongoing public debate, the paper makes an important contribution to the literature on parental leave policies and family life in the Canadian context. The paper is already being cited in leading journals. 

We would like to take this opportunity to share some details about the person behind this award. Dennis William Magill served for many years as a professor in the University of Toronto Department of Sociology. During his time at the university, Professor Magill directed the sociology undergraduate program as well as University College’s health studies program. Professor Magill was an active public sociologist, serving on the boards of many Toronto organizations, including Toronto Historical Board, Sherbourne Health Centre, Rekai Centre for Long Term Care, Centre for Urban Health Initiatives, Community Campus Partnerships for Health, and Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network. He was also a founding member of the Wellesley Institute. 

Congratulations, Dana, on this excellent achievement and best wishes for continued success. 

Prof. Melissa Milkie was recently featured in new article “More Men Helped With Housework During The Early Days Of COVID-19. What Went Wrong?” in the Huffington Post

Professor Melissa Milkie was featured in an article in the Huffington Post.  More Men Helped With Housework During The Early Days Of COVID-19. What Went Wrong? by Brittany Wong looks at how divisions of labour in the home were initially equalizing during the first wave of the ongoing pandemic but the initial increase in men’s participation and responsibilities within the family were short lived.

Professor Melissa Milkie is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga campus (UTM). She is the Chair of the Tri-Campus Graduate Department. Her research focuses on culture, the work-family interface, and mental health.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on the Huffington Post here.

More Men Helped With Housework During The Early Days Of COVID-19. What Went Wrong?

Men stepped up during the first wave, and then backslid. Here’s how to reengage them, according to couples therapists.

Article after article tells us that moms across America are utterly exhausted. Some have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, others are trying to balance work and supervising kids doing remote learning. Most are doing it with little to no support.

But men were chipping in when it came to housework and child care tasks ― at least in the first wave of the lockdown, according to a new study.

“Our findings based on data from very early in the pandemic show that if fathers are in the home more and work allows them to be flexible, they are more likely to be able to step up to the kinds of demands that families have,” said Melissa Milkie, the lead author of the study and a sociology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Milkie and her team conducted the study last May in the midst of the first wave of coronavirus-related lockdowns. Their research took into account the responses of 1,234 male-female couples across Canada with at least one child. (It’s worth noting that Canada offers far more parental support to its citizens.)

Both men and women reported that dads were stepping up. The biggest gains appeared in organizing and planning children’s activities: Before the outbreak, 46% of respondents said this was an equally shared task or that fathers did more than mothers. Afterward, 57% said this was the case.

Respondents reported smaller increases in fathers monitoring kids at school, reading, talking and listening to them, and physical care.

But somewhere along the line, things changed. As your exhausted working mom friends have probably told you, far too many men seem to have stepped back and let their wives again take on the lion’s share of the parenting and household responsibilities.

PhD student Ferdouse Asefi’s op-ed ‘Empty words and promises are not a serious attempt at reconciliation’ in the Hamilton Spectator

PhD student Ferdouse Asefi recently wrote an op-ed, Empty words and promises are not a serious attempt at reconciliation, in the Hamilton Spectator. The article outlines the numerous failures by the federal Liberal government to keep their promises to achieve reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, as well as insufficient gestures towards reconciliation by Conservative party members.

From delaying the removal of all long-term boil-water advisories to postponing its promise to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Liberal party’s efforts for reconciliation seem insincere, merely symbolic and an effort that only serves those in power. Ferdouse adds that the Conservative Party is no better, offering little more than platitudes while its leader openly speaks out against UNDRIP and Indigenous-relations ministers from provinces under Conservative leadership call for further delay. Ferdouse suggests that the Canadian government continues to fail Indigenous peoples and provides little reason for the Canadian people to believe any promises will be kept.

Ferdouse is in his third year of the PhD program at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on identity, race relations, and settler colonialism in Canada and USA. Ferdouse explores how identity is contested and contestable among racialized groups, and in doing so, examines how identity is constructed through art, law, and discourses of the media. His research examines how the media and cultural products, such as art and photography, are used as tools for identity-based resistance.

Ferdouse is a junior fellow at the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto.  His PhD supervisors are Dr. Jennifer Adese and Dr. Jerry Flores.  His previous publications include “Indigenous peoples will continue to suffer under Liberal minority,” co-authored with Erick Laming (Toronto Star. December 4, 2019) and “If we truly want to rehabilitate incarcerated youth, we must stop putting them in solitary confinement,” co-authored with Cristina Tucciarone and Sebastian di Domenico (CBC News. April 30, 2018).

We’ve included an excerpt of the op-ed below. Read the full article at the Hamilton Spectator website here.

Empty words and promises are not a serious attempt at reconciliation

By Ferdouse Asefi

The Trudeau government was given a mandate in both its 2015 and 2019 election victories. It promised improvements for Indigenous peoples, but it continues to fall short.

Recently, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller admitted the government will not meet its promise of ending all boil-water advisories by March 2021, a goal announced in 2015. No new deadline has been set.

While Miller has noted the pandemic and climate change have created further delays meeting this promise, this excuse illustrates the short-sightedness and continued systemic discrimination perpetuated by the Liberal government.

The government is deserving of criticism for failing to keep promises to achieve reconciliation. NDP MP Charlie Angus noted, “this is another in a long, long, long list of broken promises to First Nation communities,” with federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh calling it “disgusting” and “inexcusable,” while Conservative MP Gary Vidal stated it a “national embarrassment.”

It is not just the government that is worthy of criticism, but also Conservative leaders, such as Erin O’Toole, who made comments to Ryerson Conservatives that residential schools were a tool to “provide education” to Indigenous children, but became “horrible.” While an example of revisionist-based history, it comes as no surprise and portrays typical attitudes of many Conservative leaders.

O’Toole, like his predecessors Scheer and Harper, offers nothing more than just platitudes while his office claims he is a “champion for reconciliation” and “takes the horrific history of residential schools very seriously.”

Yet, O’Toole contends reconciliation means “Indigenous participation in the economy to the fullest extent.” What about other colonial mandates? This call for action is like expropriating land as opposed to dealing with intergenerational trauma and the lasting effects of colonialism. It seems that this goal reflects the interests of the Conservatives and their Trans Mountain pipeline plans.

The federal Liberal government delayed its promise to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within the first year of its new mandate. With the Liberal government recently introducing Bill C-15 to pass UNDRIP, following the footsteps of the provincial NDP government in 2019, how can this government’s goal of reconciliation be faithful when it initially postponed this promise due to the railway protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline project? The government is only interested in pursuing its agenda when it is favourable for it.

PhD student Man Xu’s new article: ‘The Sky-High Dreams of Yiwu’s Grassroots Cosmopolitans’ on Sixth Tone

PhD student Man Xu’s new article The Sky-High Dreams of Yiwu’s Grassroots Cosmopolitans is featured in Sixth Tone, an online publication that provides content on contemporary China.  Man’s blog examines how Yiwu is redefining cosmopolitanism, moving away from an exclusive lifestyle meant only for the societal elite to a culture created in a thriving global city accessible to those with the entrepreneurial drive to improve their socio-economic standing.

Those that migrate to Yiwu in search of better employment opportunities provided by its strong international commercial sector are required to be fluent in several languages and often travel abroad to learn the languages and seek out business opportunities.  Furthermore, strong informal relationships with international clients require an in-depth understanding of various cultures and societies. Their transnational lives coupled with the informal and formal relationships with the global community has naturally developed a cosmopolitan lifestyle for the working class within Yiwu.  Man highlights the experiences of individuals in Yiwu that have come from modest socio-economic backgrounds.  Despite the cosmopolitan lifestyle now afforded to those of modest backgrounds, the author notes how Covid-19 exposes the precariousness of employment in Yiwu that still remains.

Man Xu is a PhD student in her sixth year in the PhD program at the University of Toronto focusing on migration, transnationalism and Chinese Muslim traders.  She is currently working on her dissertation, examining practices of small-commodity trade businesses between China and the Middle East with the guidance of supervisors Prof. Patricia Landolt and Prof. Ping-Chun Hsiung.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article on the Sixth Tone website here.

The Sky-High Dreams of Yiwu’s Grassroots Cosmopolitans

Cosmopolitanism is usually associated with the elite. In Yiwu, migrants are forging their own kind of globalized society.

Last winter, I spent an afternoon drinking tea and catching up with a contact of mine, surnamed Li, and a group of locally based interpreters at his small commodity trading firm’s new office in the eastern city of Yiwu. Unsurprisingly, given the setting, our conversation ranged widely, from local affairs to the Middle East. Suddenly the topic shifted to Canada, the country in which I’m studying for my Ph.D. and a place they knew little about.

“How do people shop in Canada?” Li asked. “How popular is online shopping there?” After I gave a brief and not particularly professional introduction to the country, someone responded cheerfully: “It seems like a promising market! Would you be interested in a partnership with us?” He then spontaneously outlined a plan for the pair of us to export Chinese products to Canada.

It’s the kind of thing you get used to in Yiwu, an international commercial hub that’s been nicknamed “the world’s supermarket.” Business owners and interpreters in the city are capable of switching smoothly between languages as varied as Arabic, English, and Chinese — a necessity, given their frequent interactions with international merchants — and they’re constantly on the lookout for new opportunities around the world. Over the past five years, Li alone has travelled to Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon to meet customers and explore new market opportunities.

Indeed, although it may not be the first term anyone would associate with this group of migrants from poor family and educational backgrounds, Yiwu traders live extremely cosmopolitan lives. Cosmopolitanism is most often exclusively associated with elites: people with the good degrees and wealth needed to enjoy mobile lifestyles and sophisticated cultural taste. In the Chinese context, it is often connected with Chinese international students in Western universities or with corporate professionals in major urban areas.

In Yiwu, however, cosmopolitanism is defined by a very different kind of existence. The city’s interpreters have none of the cultural and economic resources of their jet-setting elite counterparts. Instead, they’re what the influential cultural theorist Stuart Hall would have termed “cosmopolitans from below,” people who lead transnational lives primarily due to economic pressure, which pushes them to work collaboratively with people from around the globe to survive and thrive.

 

 

 

 

‘Generalizing the Regression Model: Techniques for Longitudinal and Contextual Analysis’ – new book by Professor Blair Wheaton and Professor Marisa Young

Professor Blair Wheaton and Professor Marisa Young’s newly published book, Generalizing the Regression Model: Techniques for Longitudinal and Contextual Analysis (2020, Sage Publishing) occupies a unique niche in the  huge literature on quantitative methods. It is written as a second course overview of the most prevalent techniques used in sociology and related disciplines. The intention is to provide readers, students, professionals, and researchers with four kinds of resources for                                                                                                                       further learning and application.

This book is imagined both as a text and a professional reference. As a text, the book is a bridge to actual research practice and self-reliant learning. The early sections introduce a series of variations on the usual additive multiple regression model, including multiplicative and conditional relationships, forms of nonlinearity, and models for categorical outcomes and rare events. In the second half, the book considers a series of elaborations of the basic model, including structural equation modeling, the hierarchical linear model, growth curve models, fixed effects panel regression, and event history models. Chapters introducing new techniques include discussion of published implementations of each technique showing how it is applied to address important or unusual substantive research questions.

This book also acts as a professional reference, in two respects. First, it can be used as a guidebook, giving step-by-step guidance on how to conduct an analysis or build the data necessary to use a technique. The emphasis is on how the methods involved can be implemented, using analytical examples based both on SAS and STATA, and on the interpretation of results in words.   The book also includes original material on essential topics intended to create a pathway through a series of complex decisions when applying a technique. Throughout the focus is on the correspondence between the way ideas are stated textually and their representation in models.

The book’s publisher provides the following description on their website:

This comprehensive text introduces regression, the general linear model, structural equation modeling, the hierarchical linear model, growth curve models, panel data, and event history models, and includes discussion of published implementations of each technique showing how it was used to address substantive and interesting research questions. It takes a step-by-step approach in the presentation of each topic, using mathematical derivations where necessary, but primarily emphasizing how the methods involved can be implemented, are used in addressing representative substantive problems than span a number of disciplines, and can be interpreted in words. The book demonstrates the analyses in STATA and SAS. Generalizing the Regression Model provides students with a bridge from the classroom to actual research practice and application.

Dr. Blair Wheaton is currently a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1976, and taught at Yale University and McGill University before moving to the University of Toronto in 1989. He has taught graduate and undergraduate statistics courses for most of his career. He received the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociology of’ Mental Health in 2000, the “Best Publication” Award from the Mental Health section of the American Sociological Association in 1996, and was elected to the Sociological Research Association in 2010. His research focuses on both the life course and social contextual approaches to understanding mental health over multiple life stages. Currently, he is following up a family study that included interviews of 9-16 year old children from 1993-1996 to investigate the long-term consequences of gendered attitudes and practices in childhood households on work, family, and health outcomes in adulthood.

Dr. Marisa Young is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at McMaster University and a Canada Research Chair in Mental Health and Work-Life Transitions. Her research investigates the intersection between work, family, and residential contexts to bring a greater understanding of social inequalities in mental health for parents and children over the life course. Her expertise in the current project comes from her research on community-based services for mental health and well-being. Dr. Young holds an Early Researcher Award from the province of Ontario which aids her research in this area, addressing disparities in mental health resources across geographical locations.

Link: www.marisa-young.com

 

Ph.D. student Dana Wray comments for The Toronto Star on existing inequalities in the federal parental benefit and EI system, exposed by the pandemic

Ph.D. student Dana Wray was recently in an article for The Toronto Star shedding light on the existing inequalities in the federal parental benefit and the EI system that has been further exposed by the pandemic.  You can read the article ‘The pandemic exposed huge gaps in EI — turns out the parental leave system has many of the same problems’ here.

Dana is in the fourth year of the Sociology Ph.D. program at the University of Toronto. Before this, she completed a B.A. and an M.A. with a specialization in Population Dynamics at McGill University. Broadly, Dana’s research uses time use data to explore the stratification of parent-child time with children and its consequences for gender and class inequalities as well as family well-being. Her dissertation research, supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Award, investigates how work-family policies – such as parental leave and flexible workplaces – shapes parents’ time with children in Canada, the U.S., and cross-nationally. One of her recent papers, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in 2020, finds that Quebec’s paternity leave policy led to an increase in fathers’ solo parenting or responsibility time with children.

In addition to her own research, Dana collaborates extensively with her supervisor Professor Melissa Millkie and her dissertation committee member Professor Irene Boeckmann, on a SSHRC-funded project entitled, “Time Together and Apart: Clarifying the Family Time Paradox in Canada and the United States.” Dana is also currently working to collect interview data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families through a project led by Professor Milkie and Professor Leah Ruppanner at the University of Melbourne, entitled, “Changing Times: Parents’ Re-Evaluations of Work-Family Boundaries andTime Allocations in a Pandemic Era.

You can learn more about Dana Wray on her website: www.danawray.com

Congratulations to our 2020 graduates at the Department of Sociology

Congratulations to our recent graduates at the Department of Sociology!

Please join us in congratulating the following PhDs who have successfully defended their final oral exam this past academic year:

Amanda Couture-Carron Dr. Amanda Couture-Caron
Thesis Title – Adolescent Offending: How Growing Up Disadvantaged Matters Across Immigrant Generations
Dr. Joshua Harold
Thesis Title – A Genesis of Jewishness: Collective Memory, Identity Work, and Ethnic Boundary Making among Jews in Toronto
Timothy Kang Dr. Timothy Kang
Thesis Title – Partners and Crime: Contemporary Unions and Desistance from Crime During the Transition to Adulthood
Yang-Sook Kim Dr. Yang-Sook Kim
Thesis Title – Competing Subjectivities: A Comparative Study of Low-paid Care Workers in Greater Seoul and Los Angeles Koreatown
Patricia Louie Dr. Patricia Louie
Thesis Title – Complicating Race in the Study of Mental and Physical Health
Dr. Merin Oleschuk
Thesis Title – Domestic Foodwork in Value and Practice: A Study of Food, Inequality and Health in Family Life
Rachel Schumann Dr. Rachel Schumann
Thesis Title – Extending Carceral Control Pre-conviction: The Reception, Resistance, and Repercussions of Being Legally Responsible for People Accused of a Crime
Ioana Sendroiu Dr. Ioana Sendroiu
Thesis Title – Managing Crisis: Decision-making, Memory, and Legality in Post-World War Two France and Romania
Anelyse Weiler Dr. Anelyse Weiler
Thesis Title – The Periphery in the Core: Cider Production, Labour, and Agrarian Livelihoods in the Pacific Northwest

 

We are all proud of your accomplishments and hard work throughout your academic years here. Congratulations on one of your greatest achievements yet!

For more information on Sociology PhD alumni, please feel free to visit our alumni webpage below:

http://sociology.utoronto.ca/people/phd-alumni/

We would also like to extend our congratulations to the MA cohort (2019-20):

Franklynn Bartol
Madelaine Coelho
Elliot Fonarev
Christos Orfanidis
Maleeha Iqbal
Emily Kim
Andrew Michael Lawler
Nathan Ly
Rachel Meiorin
Umaima Miraj

We wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

Ph.D student Kayla Preston named C. David Naylor Fellow at the University of Toronto

Congratulations to Ph.D. student Kayla Preston, who was recently named a C. David Naylor Fellow. The Naylor Fellowships support exceptional students who come to U of T from an Atlantic Canada university. The fellowship is in honour of U of T’s 15th president, David Naylor, a leading voice for the importance of Canadian research who is presently the co-chair of a federal COVID-19 immunity task force.

Kayla is currently enrolled in her first year of Ph.D. studies in Sociology at the University of Toronto.  After completing her BA (honours) in sociology at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, she went on to complete an MA in Sociology at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.  Kayla has co-authored an article in the journal Postcolonial Studies and has also co-authored two chapters in the edited volume Gendering Globalization, Globalizing Gender: Postcolonial Perspectives.   Kayla is a Junior Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.

Kayla’s current supervisor is Dr. Jack Veugelers. Her research centers around far-right extremism in North America. Her research explores deradicalization programs in North America and Europe.

The C. David Naylor Fellows were featured in U of T News and can be found here.  The story details Kayla’s community work involvement and her research on right wing deradicalization in Canada.

Below is an except from the U of T News story outlining some of Kayla’s work and life experiences and accomplishments:

Preston has been a soccer coach, food bank worker and a workplace rights activist, but the volunteer work that’s touched her most was the time she spent at a nursing home. “I would go around and talk, sometimes for hours on end, to people who were feeling a little bit lonely,” she says. “About their lives, their interests… I learned so much about the importance of older generations, the importance of community, which I take with me to this day.”

Fredericton-born Preston comes to U of T from Dalhousie University, where she completed her MA in sociology—reaching the finals of the 2019 SSHRC Storyteller competition. In her doctoral work, she plans to build on her research into how people leave right-wing extremist groups in Canada by investigating effective ways to prevent radicalization and help those who have been involved in extremism.

“Extremism is definitely a problem that doesn’t impact just individuals. It impacts all of us when it happens,” she says. “I believe deradicalization is definitely bringing people back into the community.”

“Winning the scholarship has given me a lot of peace of mind, financially,” says Preston. “But also it felt good to be recognized by Arthur and Sandra as a scholar worth investing in, and who will hopefully be able to work with partners in the Atlantic provinces to help my community there. I’m also looking forward to being part of the Naylor community, and I thank Arthur and Sandra for bringing the East Coasters in Toronto together.”