UTM’s The Medium feature article profiles PhD student Jordan Foster’s research on social media

UTM’s student newspaper, The Medium, recently published a feature article profiling Jordan Foster’s research on social media. Entitled, “The Promises and Perils of Social Media,” the article discusses Jordan’s work examining the roles of influencers in perpetuating or combating patterns of social inequality.

Jordan is a third year PhD student. His research focuses on culture, consumption and class politics with a look toward how taken-for-granted trends and social media platforms comment on and reproduce existing inequalities in the consumer landscape.

We have included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full article here.

The promises and perils of social media

by Anna Povorozniuk

Social media is everywhere. It follows you from the early morning when you wake up and check Instagram, to lunch break when you retweet a video of a funny dog, and into the night when you scroll endlessly through TikTok videos. All of us, without a doubt, have felt the impact of social media on our lives. But has social media impacted societal functioning as well?

Jordan Foster is a graduate student in the sociology Ph.D. program at the University of Toronto St. George. He grew up with social media platforms blossoming around him and, as a curious undergrad, he began asking questions about social media’s role in society. As a graduate student, he got to transform those questions into research. His research studies focus on culture, consumption, and class politics, with a particular emphasis on how “taken-for-granted” trends and social media platforms emphasize and reproduce existing inequalities.

Social media has changed the landscape of our society in the past couple of years; there is no question about it. “It’s something that a lot of us are thinking about,” says Foster. His main concern is how social media has changed social visibility and how we view the status of others. “Social media has changed the rules of sociality, how we interact and engage with one another,” continues Foster. Analysing this shift allows us to understand how inequality functions on social media. We have to ask ourselves who succeeds on social media and, most importantly, who doesn’t to understand the full dynamics of the issue.

Continue reading…

Consume This! Fashion Influencers and COVID “Chic”

Jordan Foster’s new blog looks at how the pandemic has affected fashion influencers and the fashion industry more broadly. At present, influencers and the brands they work with face a number of challenges related to the pandemic  including obstacles related to travel and limitations surrounding advertising budgets. But influencers are responding to these challenges with significant success, capturing new followers and opportunities amidst a surge in fashion influencer viewership. Jordan’s blog can be found here.

 Jordan Foster is going into his third year in the Sociology PhD program at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on culture, consumption and class politics with a look toward how taken-for-granted trends and social media platforms comment on and reproduce existing inequalities in the consumer landscape. 

We’ve included an excerpt from the blog below.

In this month’s blog post Jordan Foster uses his research on fashion influencers to discuss how conditions under the COVID-19 pandemic have shaped their work lives, and reflect on what issues and questions they as well as brands and consumers in the fashion world face in our current moment and going forward.

— Richard E. Ocejo (Section Chair)

Consume This! Fashion Influencers and COVID “Chic”

By Jordan Foster, University of Toronto

Fashion influencers—bloggers, digital content creators and social media aficionados—have generated much attention in mainstream news media throughout the COVID19 pandemic. These news media suggest that influencers, owing to the precarity of their work aside shrinking advertising budgets and brands at the edge of bankruptcy, are losing their edge. For example, Cristina Criddle (2020), a journalist for the BBC News, explained that influencers’ contracts, press trips, and brand deals have all been “cancelled.” Amanda Perelli and Dan Whateley (2020) at Business Insider similarly reported that influencers’ collaborations and revenue streams have receded rapidly.

For readers less familiar with influencers and fashion influencers specifically, we might think of these content creators as cultural intermediaries and arbiters of taste (Bourdieu 1984; Childress 2017). They are located between producers and consumers and they play an important role in framing purchases and establishing value. Fashion influencers, for example, tout their latest apparel purchases online, sharing with viewers their thoughts on the seasons’ most important staples, as well as secrets around how to style them and, of course, where to buy them.

Given the role that influencers play in framing purchases, they are sometimes critiqued for promoting (over) consumption or else (Hund and McGuigan 2019), tied to the reproduction of broader, largely class-based, inequalities in the consumer landscape. What with [some] influencers marketing the purchase of a new product every day, it isn’t hard to see why.

U of T Sociologists at the 2020 ASA

This year, 52 faculty members and graduate students from Sociology at the University of Toronto are participating in the Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association (ASA). In addition to the people presenting papers, some members are also participating as session organizers, discussants, or journal editorial panelists. This year, the meeting will take place online. The meetings will happen between August 8th and August 11th. Here is a list of the names of academic papers, and/or sections that will be presented below by the day of presentations. Student and recent graduate presenters are shown in italics. Please refer to the ASA Program for complete information.

Saturday, August 8th

Jennifer Peruniak, How Transracial Adoptees See and Negotiate Race

Cynthia J. Cranford and Patricia Roach (with Jennifer Nazareno of Brown University), Organizing Unlikely Subjects: The Constraints and Possibilities for Domestic Worker Organizing in California

David Nicholas Pettinicchio and Jordan Foster, ‘This is Real Beauty’: Defining the Boundaries of Aesthetic Citizenship

Mircea Gherghina, Start-Ups, Social Embeddedness, and Investment Networks

Catherine Tze Hsuan Yeh and Alicia Eads, The Language of Inequality: Inequality in Sociology and Economics, 1886-2015

Andrew Miles and Catherine Tze Hsuan Yeh, Social Locations, Contexts, and Value Development: Testing Whether Demographic Predictors of Personal Values Vary Cross-Nationally

Blair Wheaton, The Intergenerational Transmission of Gender Role Attitudes and Implications for Mental Health in Mid-Adulthood

Cynthia J. Cranford, Organizing Domestic and Care Workers: A Conversation Across University and Community

Scott Schieman (with Alex E. Bierman of University of Calgary and Marisa Christine Young of McMaster University), The Roots of Loneliness in Disadvantage and Exploitation: Implications for Health of the Working Population

Jonathan Horowitz (with Barbara Entwisle, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), One Event, Two Processes, and Migration in Young Adulthood

Hae Yeon Choo, A Global Urban Sociology of Evictions and Displacement

Sara Mizen (with Andy Walter Holmes of U of T, Anthropology), Ideas for Future Research Roundtable, Table 8: LGBT Families and Life Course

Yangsook Kim, Government Workers and Paid-Daughters: Immigrant Homecare Workers’ Worker Subjectivities in Publicly Funded Care Work

Mitra Mokhtari, An “Extra Target on Your Back”: Somali-Canadian Youth & Barriers in Edmonton’s Public School Board

Sunday, August 9th

William Michelson, Daniel Silver, Fernando A. Calderón Figueroa, and Olimpia Bidian, The Dilemmas of Spatializing Social Issues

Daniel Silver and Fernando A. Calderón Figueroa, Cities and Big Data

Chris M. Smith, Urban Issues: Inequality, Institutions, and Place

Markus Schafer (with Laura Upenieks, University of Texas at San Antonio), Religious Attendance and Physical Health in Later Life: A Life Course Approach

Michelle Pannor Silver, Sociology of Aging

Catherine Tze Hsuan Yeh, Section on Political Sociology Refereed Roundtables

Ioana Sendroiu, ‘Probably Tomorrow I’ll Become a War Criminal’: Autocratic Legalism as Transnational Regime Change

Ronit Dinovitzer, Section of Sociology of Law Business Meeting

Patricia Louie, Mapping Multiracial vs. Monoracial Heath Disparities

Elliot Fonarev, Using Legal Cases as Ethnographic Objects to Assess Gender Identity Making in Human Rights Law

Kim Pernell (with Jiwook Jung of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Rethinking Moral Hazard: Competing Drivers of Bank Risk-Taking, 1993-2015

Steve G. Hoffman, Other Realities: Using Simulation in Disaster and Emergency Management to Create and Recreate Worlds

Jooyoung Kim Lee, Microsociologies: Methods & Perspectives on Interaction

Irene Boeckmann, Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving (Princeton University Press, 2019) by Caitlyn Colins

Ronit Dinovitzer and Andreea Mogosanu, Understanding the Motherhood Penalty Among Private Sector Lawyers: The Effects of Entrenched Masculinity

Ron Levi and Ioana Sendroiu, Partnership Patterns, Performances, and the Spread of Human Rights

Monday, August 10th

Chris M. Smith, Racializing Police Violence

Angelina Grigoryeva (with Nina Bandelj of University of California-Irvine), The Price of Parenting: Wealth, Race and Financial Activities for Children, 1998-2016

Jonathan Horowitz (with Jill Hamm and Kerrylin Lambert of UNC-Chapel Hill), The Price of Parenting: Wealth, Race and Financial Activities for Children, 1998-2016

Fedor A. Dokshin and Mircea Gherghina, Green in the Wallet: Political Identity, Financial Incentives, and the Diffusion of Residential Solar Photovoltaics

Joshua Harold, The Holocaust, Israel, and the Everyday Politics of Collective Memory Mobilization

David Nicholas Pettinicchio, Past, Present, and Future: 30 Years After the Americans with Disabilities Act

Kim de Laat, Valuations of Diversity: Exploring the Socio-Economic Role of Marquee Quotas in Creative Industries

Tuesday, August 11th

Kristin Plys, For a Rodneyan World Systems Analysis: Returning to the Dar es Salaam School

Kim de Laat, Barriers to Flexible Work Arrangements: New Evidence on the Role of Work Culture and Structure

Ali Greey, Preclusive Portals: The Spatial Stakes of “Determining Gender” in Binary-Gendered Restrooms and Locker Rooms

David Nicholas Pettinicchio (with Michelle Lee Maroto of University of Alberta), “Working in the Shadows of Society”: Disability Subminimum Wages and the Reproduction of Inequality

Ann L. Mullen, Beyond Classification, Decoding, and Meaning-Making: Contemporary Artists’ Perspectives on the Reception of Visual Art

Natalie Julia Adamyk, Governing Through Less Governance: Women’s Shelters and the Creation of the “Shelter-Citizen”

Carmen Lamothe, Reframing Public Health Problems: A Qualitative Examination of Public Health Apps in the United States

Michael Hammond, Section on Evolution, Biology, and Society Business Meeting

Kristin Plys, Political Economy of the World System Roundtables, Table 2: Core/Periphery Relations

Marion Blute, On Human Nature: New Approaches in the 21st Century

Sharla N. Alegria, Jobs, Occupations, and Professions

Franklynn Bartol, Sex/Gender in the Brain: Is Neuroplasticity the New Neurodeterminism?

Youngrong Lee, “It is Not Meant to Be Work”: How Do Workers Become Consumers in the Gig Economy?

Jordan Foster, “My Money and My Heart”: Buying a Birkin and Class Boundaries Online

Scott Schieman and Philip James Badawy, Control and the Health Effects of Work-Family Conflict: A Longitudinal Test of Generalized versus Specific Stress-Buffering

Michelle Pannor Silver, Section on Sociology of Consumers and Consumption Roundtables, Table 2: Body and Health

Merin Oleschuk, Expanding the Joys of Cooking: How Class Shapes the Emotional Work of Preparing Family Meals

David Nicholas Pettinicchio, Living on the Poverty Line: Low Wage Work, Precarity, and the New Economy

Noam Keren, A Radical State of Mind: When Radical Social-Movements and States Collide, The Case of 269Life

Angelina Grigoryeva, Theory Section Refereed Roundtables, Table 1: Theorizing Polity and Society-1, Table 2: Theorizing Polity and Society-2, Table 3: Theorizing Violence and Conflict, Table 4: Toward a Theory of Economic Action, Table 5: Theorizing Social Interaction and Self-Presentation, Table 6: Revisting Sociology of Classical Theory, Table 7: Theoretical Foundations of Social Justice and Inequality, Table 8: Novel Theoretical Approaches to Social Life

Christos Orfanidis, Theory Section Refereed Roundtables, Table 5: Theorizing Social Interaction and Self-Presentation

Tahseen Shams, International Migration Roundtables, Table 1: Critical Refugee Studies I, Table 2: Critical Refugee Studies II, Table 3: Citizenship, Multiculturalism, and Nationalism, Table 4: Educational Trajectories and Evolving Demographics, Table 5: Health, Wellness, and Migration, Table 6: Immigration Lawmaking and Political Activism, Table 7: Undocumented Immigration, Table 8: Refugee Resettlement and Community Formation, Table 9: Gendered Approaches to Migration I, Table 10: Gendered Approaches to Migration II, Table 11: Immigrant Workers and the Labor Market I, Table 12: Immigrant Workers and the Labor Market II, Table 13: Comparative Migration Studies, Table 14: Global Migration I, Table 15: Global Migration II

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