PhD student Kayla Preston on far right groups, populism and the federal election

PhD student Kayla Preston recently published an article on The Conversation. A political sociologist studying de-radicalization, Kayla wrote about the threat of far right groups in Canada and their potential impact on the federal election. We have included an excerpt of the article below. The full article is available at The Conversation’s website.

With far right groups on the rise, we should keep an eye on populism this federal election

While the Canadian electorate is mostly made up of Liberal, Conservative, Green and New Democrat party supporters, it also includes people who are seeking a new direction for Canadian politics — one that promises to be “for the people.” And some of these people are part of far right groups who are calling for a new populist movement.

Research shows that globally, the far right calls for an authoritarian populist government. This is a drastic step away from traditional conservative governments on the right of the political spectrum. Right-wing populist governments often see themselves as an alternative to the political elitism they envision resides on both the right and the left.

However, they differentiate themselves by providing oversimplified and often divisive solutions to social problems such as income inequality. And this is cause for concern as far right groups and far right violence have been increasing in Canada over the past decade.

read more…

PhD student Kayla Preston recently published an article titled “The Black Pill: New Technology and the Male Supremacy of Involuntary Celibate Men”

PhD student Kayla Preston recently published an article titled “The Black Pill: New Technology and the Male Supremacy of Involuntary Celibate Men” in the journal of Men and Masculinities. This article examines the arguments that heterosexual incel men make regarding their attempts in finding a partner. Kayla and her co-authors collected data by qualitatively analyzing 9,062 comments on a popular incel online forum. They found that incels believed that emerging technologies, such as social media and dating apps, exacerbated their experiences of incelibacy.

Kayla is currently a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Toronto and a Junior Affiliate with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society. Her areas of research interest include extremism, (de)radicalization, gender, political sociology and race.

We have included the abstract of the article below. You can also read the full article here.

Preston, Kayla, Michael Halpin, and Finlay Maguire. 2021. “The Black Pill: New Technology and the Male Supremacy of Involuntary Celibate Men.” Men and Masculinities. 


“Involuntary celibates, or “incels,” are people who identify themselves by their inability to establish sexual partnerships. In this article, we use analytic abduction to qualitatively analyze 9,062 comments on a popular incel forum for heterosexual men that is characterized by extensive misogyny. Incels argue that emerging technologies reveal and compound the gender practices that produce involuntarily celibate men. First, incels argue that women’s use of dating apps accelerates hypergamy. Second, incels suggest that highly desirable men use dating apps to partner with multiple women. Third, incels assert that subordinate men inflate women’s egos and their “sexual marketplace value” through social media platforms. We argue that incels’ focus on technology reinforces essentialist views on gender, buttresses male domination, dehumanizes women, and minimizes incels’ own misogyny. We discuss findings in relation to theories of masculinity and social scientific research on the impacts of emerging technology.”

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.”

Sociology students win SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships for their research 2020

This year, five of our PhD students received funding from SSHRC. This funding will provide them with support for one to four years. Although all students in the University of Toronto graduate programs have a guaranteed funding package, receiving a SSHRC fellowship provides additional funding and allows them reduce the number of hours devoted to teaching and research assistantships so that they can focus on their dissertation research. All of our PhD students apply for external funding and receive training in developing proposals.

2020 SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship Recipients


Anson Au
Social Structural Transformations in Markets of Human Goods: An Economic Sociological Study of Cosmetic Surgery Consumption in South Korea
Eugene Dim
Political Institutions and the Gender Gaps in Political Participation in Africa
Soli Dubash
The Intergenerational Transmission of Mastery Beliefs Between Mother and Child
Kayla Preston
Right-wing extremist deradicalization: steps toward rethinking racial identity for those who have left extremist groups in a North American deradicalization program
Jillian Sunderland
Extremist Men: An Analysis of Masculinities in the White Supremacist Movements

Recipients from previous years among our current students

Amny Athamny, Phil Badawy, Tyler Bateman, James Braun, Milos Brocic, Amanda Couton-Couture, Meghan Dawe, Miranda Doff, Marie-Lise Drappon-Bisson, Athena Engman, Melissa Godbout,  Cinthya Guzman, James Jeong, Timothy Kang, Hammand Khan,  Patricia Louie, Gabe Menard, Andreea Mogoanu, Jean-Francois Nault, Andrew Nevin, Jaime Nikolaou, Merin Oleschuk, Laila Omar, Sebastien Parker, Shawn Perron, Taylor Price, Paul Pritchard, Kate Rozad, Kerri Scheer, Rachel Schumann, Ioana Sendroiu, Jason Settels, Sarah Shah, Anna Slavina, Yukiko Tanaka, Samia Tecle, S.W. Underwood, Laura Upenieks, Anelyse Weiler, Lawrence Williams and Dana Wray.