2020-21 Feminist Lunchtime Series by Professor Cynthia Cranford, “Home Care Fault Lines”

Subject: Women and Gender Studies presents its first talk for the 2020-21 Feminist Lunchtime Series by Professor Cynthia Cranford, “Home Care Fault Lines”

The Women and Gender Studies presents the first lecture in its 2020-21 Feminist Lunchtime Series, “Home Care Fault Lines” by Professor Cynthia Cranford. Friday, October 30, 2020 at 12pm. 

Please click the link to the zoom event or use the meeting ID and password (Link: https://utoronto.zoom.us/j/87074731403) to join the event on Friday, Oct 30th at 12 pm.

“Cynthia Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is the co-author of Self-Employed Workers Organize: Law, Policy and Unions (2005,McGill Queens University Press).”

“Home Care Fault Lines”: New Book by Dr. Cynthia Cranford

Dr.Cynthia Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Professor Cynthia Cranford studies inequalities of gender, work and migration, and collective efforts to resist them..

Dr. Cranford includes a brief description of the book in the biography listed on her contact page:


Dr. Cranford’s book, Home Care Fault Lines: Understanding Tensions and Creating Alliances (2020, Cornell University Press)  analyzes the dynamics that exacerbate, and alleviate, tensions between elderly and disabled people’s quest for flexible services and workers’ pursuit of security. Cranford compares four programs providing support to adults with physical disabilities and elderly people across and within class and racial lines, inside and outside of families, and provided to, and by, both women and men in Toronto and Los Angeles. This qualiative analysis is based on interviews with over three hundred people, including the elderly and disabled people who use home care services, the workers that directly provide them and key informants from government, employers, disability advocates, and labor organizers. To support both flexible care and secure work, Cranford argues we need deeply democratic alliances to advocate for universal state funding, design culturally sensitive, labour market intermediaries to assist in finding workers and jobs, and to address everyday tensions in home-workplaces. Two Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada grants supported this book project.

The book’s publisher, University of California Press, includes the following synopsis on their website:

In this revealing look at home care, Cynthia J. Cranford illustrates how elderly and disabled people and the immigrant women workers who assist them in daily activities develop meaningful relationships even when their different ages, abilities, races, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds generate tension. As Cranford shows, workers can experience devaluation within racialized and gendered class hierarchies, which shapes their pursuit of security.

Cranford analyzes the tensions, alliances, and compromises between security for workers and flexibility for elderly and disabled people, and she argues that workers and recipients negotiate flexibility and security within intersecting inequalities in varying ways depending on multiple interacting dynamics.

What comes through from Cranford’s analysis is the need for deeply democratic alliances across multiple axes of inequality. To support both flexible care and secure work, she argues for an intimate community unionism that advocates for universal state funding, designs culturally sensitive labor market intermediaries run by workers and recipients to help people find jobs or workers, and addresses everyday tensions in home workplaces.

Professor Cynthia Cranford: Pandemic exposes deep flaws in Canadian home care system

The UTM Research News has recently published an interview with Professor Cynthia Cranford about care work during the pandemic. Professor Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology with undergraduate teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga campus. Her research focuses on inequalities of gender, work and migration, and collective efforts to resist them.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below; the full article can be found online on the UTM Research page here.

Pandemic exposes deep flaws in Canadian home care system

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 – 11:30am
Blake Eligh

The pandemic has infiltrated long-term care facilities, infecting staff and residents alike and resulting in scores of deaths. Now one U of T Mississauga sociologist is sounding the alarm for a hidden population that is also at grave risk: home care workers and their clients.

Over the past decade, associate professor of sociology Cynthia Cranford has studied home-based elder care and disability support programs in Ontario and California. She is the author of a new book that shines a light on the vulnerabilities of both care providers and receivers, covering themes of disability, aging, immigration and labour organization.

“As experts question long-term residential care, we should take this opportunity to recognize the importance of acute and ongoing support needs that people need to live dignified lives,” she says.

About a million Canadians rely on home care support for personal hygiene, medical assistance and help around the house.

“Home care is an essential underlying support to our broader health care system,” says Cranford. “It is vital to elderly and disabled people to get the assistance that they need with daily activities like eating, dressing, bathing, in order to live in their homes with dignity.” Home care also provides short-term acute care to people who can recover from illness or injury at home instead of in the hospital.

Read more…

PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer and Professor Cynthia Cranford on Union Renewal Among Personal Support Workers

Louise Birdsell-BauerPhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer and Professor Cynthia Cranford published an article in Work, Employment and Society that examines union renewal among personal support workers. The authors argue that the relations between support workers and their clients influence union organization in important ways.

Louise Birdsell Bauer obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her research interests involve contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes across Canada and the USA. Cynthia Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research involves studying the intersections of economic change, gender and international migration.

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

Birdsell Bauer, Louise and Cynthia Cranford. 2016. “The Community Dimensions of Union Renewal: Racialized and Caring Relations in Personal Support Services.” Work, Employment and Society, 31(2):302-318.

Union renewal research calls for moving beyond broad terms, like community unionism, to specify how social relations of work shape renewal for different workers, sectors and contexts. Analysis of interviews with union officials and union members in publicly funded, in-home personal support reveal two community dimensions: both caring and racialized relations between workers and service recipients. Scholarship on care workers emphasizes empathy and coalition with service recipients as a key aspect of union renewal, yet says little about racialized tensions. Studies of domestic workers emphasize organizing in response to racialization, but provide little insight into caring social relations at work. This article develops arguments that both positive and negative worker–recipient relations shape union organizing and representation in the service sector by specifying the ways in which racialization contributes to this dynamic. It suggests that anti-racist organizing at work, alongside coalition building and collective bargaining, are important renewal strategies for this sector.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer, PhD Candidate Angela Hick, and Professor Cynthia Cranford on Toronto Homecare Workers



Louise Birdsell-BauerPhD Graduate Louise Birdsell Bauer, PhD Candidate Angela Hick, and Professor Cynthia Cranford published an article in the Labor Studies Journal. The article analyzes union interactions with homecare workers in the late 2000s. The authors use interviews with both union members and officials to study the role of social unionism, which refers to the interaction between unions and workers that involve economic and social justice.

Louise Birdsell Bauer obtained her PhD in Sociology at the University of Toronto in 2018. She researches contract academic work in universities, employment relations, and trends in unions and strikes in Canada and the US. Angela Hick is currently a PhD Candidate in the Sociology Department at University of Toronto St. George. Cynthia Cranford is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto Mississauga and her research bridges the areas of work, gender and migration.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Cranford, Cynthia, Angela Hick and Louise Birdsell Bauer. 2018. “Lived Experiences of Social Unionism: Toronto Homecare Workers in the late 2000s.” Labor Studies Journal, 43(1):74-96.

This article examines workers’ experiences with a union characterized by a social unionist framing and repertoire in the political realm and bureaucratic servicing of problems in the workplace realm. It analyzes interviews with members and officials about union strategies within privatized homecare predominately provided by immigrant women in Toronto. Workers report both consensual and tense relations with clients prompting them to praise their union’s political strategies yet criticize its limited workplace support. Findings indicate the importance of framing and repertoire that connect quality work with quality care, yet indicate a complex labor process that requires more conceptual and strategic attention.

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




Habit and the Body

Congratulations to Doctoral Candidate Athena Engman and Professor Cynthia Cranford who recently published an article on the role of physical capacity in habit formation. Thanks to SSHRC for funding the research that resulted in this publication. The article was recently highlighted by the American Sociological Association as a journal highlight when it appeared earlier this year. You can see the full article here. Below is the citation and abstract.

Athena Engman and Cynthia Cranford (2016) Habit and the Body: Lessons for Social Theories of Habit from the Experiences of People with Physical Disabilities. Sociological Theory: 34 (1): 27-44 DOI: 0.1177/0735275116632555

Habitual action has been an important concept in sociological theory insofar as it allows for a conceptualization of action that does not rely on paradigmatic loyalty to a rational decision-making subject. One insight from theories of habit that is of particular importance for understanding how habit structures experience is the idea that habits are always habits in a world: we act in a material environment that is itself constitutive of action. Relatively little attention, however, has been paid to the ways in which the material environment is preconfigured for action by particular forms of embodiment. Drawing on disability studies as well as an empirical consideration of the experiences of people with physical disabilities and the attendant service providers who work with them, we develop a model of habit that accounts for the variability in habit formation and maintenance that characterizes lived experience.