PhD student Gordon Brett recently published a piece titled “A Sociology of ‘Thinking Dispositions'”

PhD student Gordon Brett recently published a piece titled “A Sociology of ‘Thinking Dispositions'” on the academic blog Culture, Cognition, and Action (culturecog). 

In this piece, Gordon emphasizes the importance of taking into account individual variability in sociological work on dual-process cognition. From examining the claims of various cultural sociologists, Gordon shows that they “presuppose a ‘one-size fits all’ model of social actors and the workings of human cognition.” Although the term “individual differences” tends to be overlooked by sociologists because it sounds “non-sociological,” Gordon states that it nonetheless exists, is socially patterned, and is valuable for research.

Gordon Brett is a PhD candidate in Sociology and a member of the Morality, Action, and Cognition Lab (MAC Lab) at the University of Toronto. His current research focuses on creativity, cognitive styles, and the theory diagrams that sociologists use. He also examines how cognitive processes and social and cultural life interrelate.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. You can read the full article here.

“We can go back to the classics to find concepts that approximate thinking dispositions and propositions about how and why they are socially patterned. Georg Simmel argued that the psychological conditions of the metropolis (e.g., constant sensory stimulation, the money economy) produce citizens that (dispositionally and habitually) react “with [their] head instead of [their] heart” (2012[1905]: 25) – a more conscious, intellectual, rational, and calculating mode of thought. Relatedly, John Dewey (2002[1922], 1933) wrote about a “habit of reflection” or a “reflective disposition” born out of education and social customs.

We can also find this line of thinking in more contemporary works. Pierre Bourdieu (2000) argued that the conditions of the skholè foster a “scholastic disposition” characterized by scholastic reasoning or hypothetical thinking. Annette Lareau’s (2011) account of “concerted cultivation” found that wealthier families aimed to stimulate and encourage their children’s rational thinking and deliberate information processing to develop their “cognitive skills.” Critical realists aiming to hybridize habitus and reflexivity have argued that certain conditions (e.g., late-modernity, socialization that emphasizes contemplation) produce habiti in which reflexivity itself becomes dispositional – a reflexive habitus (Adkins, 2003; Mouzelis, 2009; Sweetman, 2003). All of these accounts broadly suggest that people in different social locations are exposed to different types of social and cultural influences which lead them to develop thinking dispositions.”

PhD Candidate Gordon Brett and Professor Vanina Leschziner on “Cognitive, Embodied, and Evaluative Processes in Creativity”

Ph.D. Candidate Gordon Brett and Professor Vanina Leschziner recently co-authored an article in Social Psychology Quarterly, entitled, “Beyond Two Minds: Cognitive, Embodied, and Evaluative Processes in Creativity”. The article demonstrates that creativity is grounded in both bodily and sensory experience, and is more reliant on a combination of cognitive processes than has been recognized. One of the central aims of the article is to address the limitations of the sociological dual-process model for the understanding of creativity, cognition, and action.

Gordon Brett is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Sociology Department.  His research interests lie at the intersection of sociological theory, culture, cognition, and the body/embodiment. Professor Leschziner is an Associate Professor in Sociology with interests in theory, the sociology of culture, cognition, organizations, and qualitative methods.

We have posted the abstract below. The full article can be viewed here.

Leschziner, V., & Brett, G. (2019). Beyond Two Minds: Cognitive, Embodied, and Evaluative Processes in Creativity. Social Psychology Quarterly.

Scholars in sociology and social psychology typically represent creativity as an imaginative and deliberate mental activity. Such a perspective has led to a view of creativity as disconnected from the body and the senses as well as from nonanalytic cognition. In this article, we demonstrate that creativity is more grounded in bodily and sensory experience and more reliant on a combination of cognitive processes than has been typically recognized. We use literature on social cognition and embodiment to build our arguments, specifically, the embodied simulation perspective and tripartite process models. We draw from data on elite chefs to show how actors rely on embodied simulations, continually switch between heuristic and analytical thinking, and monitor and control their cognitive processing during the creative process. We outline the implications of this study for the understanding of creativity and extant models of cognition and action more generally.


PhD Candidate Gordon Brett on the Personal Blogs of Healthcare Professionals

PhD Candidate Gordon Brett published an article in the Journal of Communication Inquiry. The article examines the motivations and explanations of health care professionals who negotiate the benefits and risks of online communication with respect to their roles.

Gordon Brett is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Sociology Department.  His research interests lie at the intersection of sociological theory, culture, cognition, and the body/embodiment.

We have posted the abstract below. The full article can be viewed here.

Scheibling, C., Gillett, J., & Brett, G. (2018). “Making the Virtual Rounds: The Use of Blogs by Health-Care Professionals” Journal of Communication Inquiry, Vol. 42(1) 48–66.

In the ‘‘Health 2.0’’ era, digital media has altered how health care is conducted and how patients consume medical information. This article explores the reasons why health-care professionals create their own blogs and how they use blogging as a component of their work. We examine interviews with medical bloggers (n ¼ 83) featured on ‘‘Grand Rounds,’’ a weekly medical blog forum or ‘‘carnival,’’ to interpret the ways in which blogging is incorporated into their everyday lives. In performing a qualitative thematic analysis, we develop five themes that help capture what blogs mean to these health-care practitioners. The uses of blogs speak to articulating and reestablishing a professional reputation, connecting with patients informally, writing for therapeutic reasons, negotiating institutional constraints, and promoting community and health-care reform.


PhD Candidate Gordon Brett discusses the violence and culture in MMA Fighting

PhD Candidate Gordon Brett has written an article using concepts within cultural sociology to analyze the perceptions and understandings of violence in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). In particular, he looks at the ability of MMA to be viewed as a legitimate cultural form with artistic merits.

Gordon Brett is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Sociology Department.  His research interests lie at the intersection of sociological theory, culture, cognition, and the body/embodiment.

Those with access can view the article here. We have posted the full citation and abstract below.

Brett, G. (2017). “Reframing the ‘Violence’of Mixed Martial Arts: The ‘Art’of the fight” Poetics, 62: 15-28.

This paper deploys conceptual and analytical tools from cultural sociology to analyze Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). While often characterized as violent and uncivilized, MMA has a core following of fans who watch MMA and consume MMA media out of an interest in the aesthetics of the sport. As salient actors within the ‘internally legitimate’ sphere of the sport, this paper explores the way the MMA media construct symbolic boundaries around different kinds of fights through aesthetic and moral evaluations. Through qualitative content analysis of MMA media discourse, I attempt to reconstruct their general aesthetic principles, demonstrating a fourfold typology of MMA in practice: repulsive ‘excessive violence’, boring ‘insufficient action’, soft ‘palatable practices’, and sublime ‘aesthetic violence’. This framework allows the MMA media as ‘connoisseurs’ to create hierarchical ‘distinctions’ between their aesthetic attitudes and those of more casual ‘mass’ audiences. This research may prove useful for scholars interested in MMA, culture, and sports media studies.


U of T Sociologists at the 2019 ASA

This year, 71 faculty members graduate students from Sociology at the University of Toronto are participating in the Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association in New York City. 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 10th and August 13th. We have listed the papers we’re presenting below by the day of the presentation, with student and recent grad presenters shown in italics. Please refer to the ASA Program for complete information.

Saturday, August 10th

Ellen Berrey, U.S. Universities’ Responses to Hate Speech Incidents and Free Speech Politics and the Implications for Inclusion Policy

Yvonne Daoleuxay, The Most Canadian Neighborhood Ever: Social Disciplining and Driving in the Greater Toronto Area

Ethan Fosse and Jason Settels, Population-Level Variability of Happiness Trends in the United States

Chris Kohut, Unanticipated Gains in Homeless Shelters: A Study Examining the Social Networks of the Homeless Population

Ron Levi (with Holly Campeau of U of Alberta and Todd Foglesong of U of T, Munk School), Legality, Recognition, and the Bind of Legal Cynicism: Experiences of Policing During an Unsettled Time

Matthew Parbst, Gender Equality, Family Policy and the Convergence of the Gender Gap in Depression

Kristin Plys, Politics and Poetics in Lahore’s Pak Tea House during the Zia Military Dictatorship (1977-1988)

Markus Schafer (with Matthew Andersson of Baylor University), Looking Homeward with the Life Course: Early Origins of Adulthood Dwelling Satisfaction?

Sunday, August 11th

Philip Badawy and Scott Schieman, When Family Calls: How Gender, Money, and Care Shape the Family Contact and Family-to-Work Conflict Relationship

Irene Boeckman, Work-Family Policies and Working Hours’ Differences Within Couples After Childbirth

Lei Chai and Scott Schieman (with Alex Bierman of U of Calgary) Financial Strain and Psychological Distress: The Mediating Effect of Work-Family Interface

Clayton Childress, Shyon Baumann, Jean-Francois Nault (and Craig M. Rowlings from Duke University), From Omnivore to Snob: The Social Positions of Taste Between and Within Music Genres

Ethan Fosse (with Fabian T. Pfesser of U of Michigan), Bounding Analyses of Mobility Effects

Susila Gurusami, Carceral Complicities: Holding Institutions of Higher Education Accountable for Our Carceral Crises

Julia Ingenfeld, Parents’ Division of Housework and Mothers’ Labor Force Participation: Result of Selection and Assortative Mating?

Jonathan Kauenhowen, Framing Indigeneity: A comparative analysis of Indigenous representation in mainstream and Indigenous newspapers

Yangsook Kim, Doing Care Work in Korea Town: Korean In-Home Supportive Service Workers in Los Angeles

Kim de Laat, De-stigmatizing flexible work arrangements: The promises and pitfalls of buy-in from ideal working fathers

Chang Zhe Lin, Social Capital, Islam, and Labor Force Outcomes: Explaining Labor Force Outcomes among Muslim Immigrants in France

Martin Lukk, Fracturing the Imagined Community: Income Inequality and Ethno-nationalism in Affluent Democracies

David Pettinicchio and Jordan Foster, A Model Who Looks Like Me: Representing Disability in the Fashion Industry

Ashley Rubin, Target Populations or Caught in the Net: How Race and Gender have Structured Prison Reform Efforts Throughout American History and What it Means for Reforming Mass Incarceration

Ioana Sendroiu, Imagination, from Futures to Failures

Sarah Shah, Gendering Religious Reflexivity in Minority Groups: The Case of Pakistani Canadian Muslims

Michelle Pannor Silver, Embodiment and Athletic Identity

Lawrence Williams, How Career Identity Shapes the Meaning of Work for Referred Employees

Dana Wray, The Causal Effect of Paternity Leave on Fathers’ Responsibility for Children

Monday, August 12th

Katelin Albert, “The decision was made for me. I’m okay with that”: HPV Vaccine and Adolescent Girls’ Selves

Monica Boyd and Shawn Perron, The Vietnamese Boat People in Canada: 30 Years Later

Gordon Brett, The Embodied Dimensions of Creativity

Soli Dubash, “My House Is Your House”: Genre Conventions, Myspace Musicians, and Music Genre Self-Identification

M. Omar Faruque, Privatizing Nature: Resource Development and Nationalist Imaginaries in Bangladesh

Fernando A. Calderon Figueroa,Trust thy Neighbour, but Leave Up the Hedges: Trust in the Urban Scene

Vanina Leschziner, The Specter of Schemas: Uncovering the Meanings and Uses of “Schemas” in Sociology

Patricia Louie, Race, Skin Tone and Health Inequality in the U.S.

Neda Maghbouleh, Anti-Muslim Racism and the ‘MENA’ Box: Expulsions and Escapes from Whiteness

Gabriel Menard, Latent Framing Opportunities for Movements and Counter-movements: The US Network Neutrality Debate, 2005-2015

Sebastien Parker, ‘Both roads lead to Rome’: Pathways towards commitment in a far-right organization

Kim Pernell, Imprinting a Risky Logic: Graduate Business Education and Bank Risk-Taking

Sagi Ramaj, The Homeownership Attainment of LGB Immigrants: The Role of Social Relationships

Jeffrey Reitz (with Emily Laxer of York U and Patrick Simon of INED), National immigration ‘models,’ social welfare regimes, and Muslims’ economic incorporation in France and Canada

Ioana Sendroiu and Andreea Mogosanu, Stigma spillover and beyond: Resistance, appropriation, and counter-narratives in stigmatized consumption

Tahseen Shams, The Precariousness of South Asian Muslim Americans: Geopolitics, Islamophobia, and the Model Minority Myth

Lance Stewart, The Judgment of Objects: The Constitution of Affordances through the Perceptual Judgment of Digital Media

Laura Upenieks, Reassembling the Radius: Trust and Marginality across East-Central Europe

Tuesday, August 13th

Milos Brocic, Higher Education and the Development of Moral Foundations

Jerry Flores (with Janelle Hawes of U Washington-Tacoma and Kati Barahona-Lopes of UC, Santa Cruz), What are the challenges of girls in involved in the foster care and juvenile justice system?

Ethan Fosse (with Christopher Winship of Harvard University), Bias Formulas for Mechanism-Based Models: A General Strategy for Estimating Age-Period-Cohort Effects

Angelina Grigoryeva, An Organizational Approach to Financial Risk-Taking: The Role of Firm Compensation Plans

Cinthya J. Guzman, Rethinking Boredom in (Inter)action

Andrew Nevin, Cyber-Psychopathy Revisited: An Alternative Framework for Explaining Online Deviance

Laila Omar, “What would my future be?”: Conceptualization of the “future” among Syrian newcomer mothers in Canada

Natalia Otto, The violent art of making do: Gendered narratives of criminalized girls in Southern Brazil

Laura Upenieks and Ron Levi (with John Hagan of Northwestern University), The Palliative Function of Legality Beliefs on Mental Health



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




Ph.D. Candidate Gordon Brett on evaluating cigarette taxes

Ph.D. Candidate Gordon Brett has recently co-authored and published an article in Marketing Science, entitled, “A dynamic model of rational addiction: Evaluating cigarette taxes”. The article details the creation of a dynamic model of addiction and stockpiling in order to investigate the effects of various policy interventions on cigarette purchases.

Gordon Brett is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Sociology Department.  His research interests lie at the intersection of sociological theory, culture, cognition, and the body/embodiment.

We have posted the abstract below. The full article can be viewed here.

Gordon, B. R., & Sun, B. (2015). A dynamic model of rational addiction: Evaluating cigarette taxes. Marketing Science34(3), 452-470.

Addiction creates an intertemporal link between a consumer’s past and present decisions, altering their responsiveness to price changes relative to nonaddictive products. We construct a dynamic model of rational addiction and endogenous consumption to investigate how consumers respond to policy interventions that aim to reduce purchases of cigarettes. We find that, on average, the category elasticity is about 35% higher when the model correctly accounts for addiction. However, some policies spur substitution from more expensive single packs to less expensive cartons of cigarettes, resulting in higher overall consumption for some consumers.