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

Recent Phd Graduate Merin Oleschuk to begin Tenure Track position at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Recent PhD recipient, Merin Oleschuk will begin a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Merin graduated on January 10, 2020. Her dissertation is entitled, Domestic Foodwork in Value and Practice: A Study of Food, Inequality and Health in Family Life and she completed it under the supervision of Josée Johnston, Shyon Baumann and Melissa Milkie.  Her dissertation abstract is as follows:

This dissertation explores home-cooked family meals – the ideals and expectations around them, as well as how they are navigated by parents in diverse social positions. This exploration assesses how discourses and practices surrounding family foodwork reflect and shape inequalities in a variety of realms including gendered labour, economic disparities, health outcomes and consumer politics. It utilizes diverse methods including a discourse and content analysis of North American news media, as well as qualitative interviews, cooking observations and food recall conversations with parents in the Greater Toronto Area who are primary cooks in their families. These varied methods facilitate investigation into how home cooking is publicly presented, automatically understood, and emotionally experienced by parents from diverse backgrounds. The dissertation explores these ends in three analytically distinct chapters, offering three key insights. First, the media analysis reveals that public discourse promotes a complex allocation of responsibility for family meals that recognizes multiple structural conditions constraining meals (such as unhealthy food environments and inflated normative standards), yet assigns responsibility for resolving them to individuals (i.e. parents should work harder to combat these constraints and cook more at home). These findings apply to family meals but can also be extended to consider responsibility for social problems within neoliberalism more broadly. Second, interview analysis identifies the ubiquity of a cultural schema of “cooking by our mother’s side”: an automatic, semi-conscious understanding of learning to cook that privileges culinary knowledge acquired during childhood through the social reproductive work of mothers. Analysis of this schema reveals its role in reproducing gendered inequalities and obscuring diversity in food learning, especially by overemphasizing the importance of childhood and masking learning later in life. Third, I qualitatively analyze how socio-economic disadvantage (alongside its intersections with gender and race/ethnicity) negatively impacts the emotional experience of foodwork but does not necessarily predict cooking pleasure. In identifying and exploring five conditions of cooking pleasure, I examine how certain conditions can operate relatively independently from class and facilitate cooking enjoyment for low-income groups. Collectively, the dissertation advances scholarly understanding of the ideals, meanings and emotions encompassing family foodwork, their embeddedness with social inequalities, as well as opportunities for resistance and social change.

Merin’s new position is part of a cluster hire in food security within the University’s College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. She looks forward to working alongside other scholars across disciplines working to improve human and environmental health through the food system. While at Illinois, she plans to continue to develop her research around domestic food labour and consumption while expanding her research programme addressing issues of food insecurity around it. She will teach classes in the areas of food, gender and qualitative methods. Merin currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Guelph, working on the GenEQ: Advancing the Status of Women at the University of Guelph Initiative in the Provost’s Office.

PhD Candidate Merin Oleshuk, in collaboration with Professors Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann, on “Maintaining Meat: Cultural Repertoires and the Meat Paradox in a Diverse Socio-Cultural Context”

PhD Candidate Merin Oleshuk, in collaboration with Professors Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann,  published an article in Sociological Forum, entitled “Maintaining Meat: Cultural Repertoires and the Meat Paradox in a Diverse Socio-Cultural Context.” This article examines Canadian meat eaters and vegetarians within the context of “cultural repertoires” regarding meat eating. The authors distinguish between two types of repertoires: identity repertoires and liberty repertoires and analyze how they function in different ways, arguing that “the meanings attributed to meat consumption are crucial for understanding its persistence in the face of strong reasons to change”.

Merin Oleschuk is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto studying the impact of social inequalities on food consumption. She believes that food is a material lens for considering how and why we use taste to create bonds and preserve boundaries among those around us. Her dissertation and current work examine the values and practices around home cooking and the meaning of cooking based on social positions.

Josée Johnston is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and specializes in the sociological study of food. Her research interests lie at the intersection of culture, politics, gender and the environment. Her research and teaching areas include the sociology of food, consumer culture, gender, environmental sociology, political sociology, and critical theory.

Shyon Baumann is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and specializes in the sociological study of the media, culture, and the arts. His research centres on several key concepts, those of evaluation, legitimacy, status, cultural schemas, and inequality. He is currently engaged in a collaborative project with Josée Johnston on the political dimensions of food consumption and together they are beginning to investigate the ways that consumers think about buying and eating different kinds of meat.

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

Oleschuk, Merin, Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann. 2019. “Maintaining Meat: Cultural Repertoires and the Meat Paradox in a Diverse Socio-Cultural Context.” Sociological Forum 34(2): 337-360.

Despite rising concerns about the meat industry and animal slaughter, meat consumption in Europe and North America remains relatively high, what has been called the “meat paradox.” In this article, we examine a diverse sample of Canadian meat eaters and vegetarians to build on earlier work on the psychological strategies people employ to justify eating meat. We analyze the explanations people give for meat eating within the context of what sociologists term cultural repertoires—the taken‐for‐granted, unarticulated scripts that inform actions. We distinguish between two types of repertoires: identity repertoires that have a basis in personal, embodied group identities and regularly draw from vivid first‐person experiences; and liberty repertoires that are more abstractly conceptualized and signal peoples’ sense of their rights in social space. We find that these repertoires function in distinct ways, both in regard to how participants situated themselves within them, and in their capacity to facilitate active engagement with the ethical implications of conduct. Through these repertoires, we show how the meanings attributed to meat consumption are crucial for understanding its persistence in the face of strong reasons to change, while also advancing literature on cultural repertoires by highlighting their variability.

PhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk’s research featured in Eater magazine

Ph.D. Candidate Merin Oleschuk research on “foodies” in Toronto was featured in an article by Eater, entitled, “What Does ‘Authenticity’ in Food Mean in 2019?” The article claims that ‘authenticity’ in food “still matters, but its definition isn’t as simple as it used to be” because of the rising awareness of racial inequalities in its definition.

Merin Oleschuk is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the impact of social inequalities on food consumption. Oleschuk studies food as a material lens for considering how and why we use taste to create bonds and preserve boundaries among those around us. Her dissertation and current works examine the values and practices around home cooking and the meaning of cooking based on social positions.

The full article is available here. We have posted an excerpt below.

A white person cooking impeccable Mexican cuisine may be seen as newsworthy, while a Mexican person doing the same is just business as usual, to the point that chef Gabriela Cámara told Eater that, before she started cooking in the U.S., she didn’t even think of herself as cooking Mexican food. In a survey of “foodies” in Toronto, researcher Merin Oleschuk found that chefs of color are often limited by what white and Western diners expect their food to look like, and punished when they don’t live up to those expectations. “These instances are problematic because they summon people to act as ‘representatives’ of their culture,” writes Oleschuk. “Doing so supports social distancing by asking people of color to occupy positions of bounded ethnicity whereby their role is to ‘enrich’ an otherwise normatively white, Anglo-Saxon society through ‘ethnic performances’ and ‘traditions.”’

Read the full article.

PhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk on “Gender, Cultural Schemas and Learning to Cook”.

Ph.D. Candidate Merin Oleschuk has published an article in Gender and Society, entitled “Gender, Cultural Schemas and Learning to Cook.” The article looks to the experience of learning to cook to understand persistent gender inequalities in family cooking.

Merin Oleschuk’s research and teaching areas involve the sociology of food; consumption and consumer culture; sociology of health; sociology of gender; the environment; qualitative and quantitative research methods.

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

Oleschuk, Merin. 2019. “Gender, Cultural Schemas and Learning to Cook.” Gender & Society 33(4): 607-628.

While public health researchers stress the importance of home-cooked meals, feminist scholars investigate inequalities in family cooking, including why women still cook much more than men. Key to understanding these inequalities is attention to how people learn to cook, a relatively understudied topic by social scientists. To address this gap, this study employs the concept of cultural schemas. Drawing from qualitative interviews and observations of 34 primary cooks in families, I identify the ubiquity of a “cooking by our mother’s side” schema. This schema privileges culinary knowledge acquired during childhood through the social reproductive work of mothers. I argue, first, that this schema reproduces gendered inequalities over generations by reinforcing women as primary transmitters of cooking knowledge. Second, it presents an overly uniform picture of food learning that obscures diversity, especially by overemphasizing the importance of childhood and masking the learning that occurs later in life. Identifying and analyzing this schema offers opportunities to reconsider predominant approaches to food learning to challenge gendered inequalities in domestic foodwork.

Ph.D. Candidate Merin Oleschuk on “In Today’s Market, Your Food Chooses You”

Ph.D. Candidate Merin Oleschuk has published an article in Social Problems, entitled “In Today’s Market, Your Food Chooses You’: News Media Constructions of Responsibility for Health through Home Cooking.” The article examines North American national news media’s 2015–16 presentation of family meals, and deconstructs many of the presumptions made in relation to families’ decisions about mealtimes.

Merin Oleschuk’s research and teaching areas involve the sociology of food; consumption and consumer culture; sociology of health; sociology of gender; the environment; qualitative and quantitative research methods.

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

Oleschuk, Merin. 2019. “‘In Today’s Market, Your Food Chooses You’: News Media Constructions of Responsibility for Health through Home Cooking.” Social Problems. doi: 10.1093/socpro/spz006.

This article examines North American national news media’s 2015–16 presentation of family meals. Analyzing 326 articles, I identify the ubiquity of a narrative of deterioration, or the presumption that families are replacing meals made from whole, unprocessed ingredients consumed communally around a table, with processed and pre-prepared foods eaten alone or “on the go”. In analyzing the construction of responsibility for this deterioration, I find that the sample predominately frames the production of healthy family meals as constrained by a food environment saturated with inexpensive, highly processed food, and dictated by the competing demands of paid work and inflated normative standards. Yet, when differentiating frames that define the social problem from those that offer solutions, I find that individualization prevails in the frames that target solutions. One important exception is media reporting on low-income families, which are framed as facing exceptional structural constraint. Analyzing these frames, I argue that neoliberal ideology that over-emphasizes individual agency and minimizes structural constraint operates in more subtle ways than previous literature suggests—showing some awareness of the difficulty of people’s lives, but prescribing solutions that leave individuals responsible for the outcomes. These findings offer implications for understanding dominant cultural values surrounding health and the family meal, as well as the allocation of responsibility for social problems within neoliberalism more broadly.

PhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk on Community-Based Participatory Research

Merin OleschukPhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk, in collaboration with Professor Maria Mayan, Sanchia Lo, Anna Paucholo, and Daley Laing (all from the University of Alberta), published an article in Engaged Scholar Journal. The article examines the role of leadership in community-based participatory research. The authors argue that leadership in these research projects, and how it is developed, is similar to traditional leadership in many ways.

Merin Oleschuk is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto studying the impact of social inequalities on food consumption. Her dissertation examines values and practices around home cooking.

The full text of the article can be accessed through Engaged Scholar Journal’s website here. We have included the citation and abstract below.

Mayan, Maria, Sanchia Lo, Merin Oleschuk, Anna Paucholo, and Daley Laing. 2016. “Leadership in Community-Based Participatory Research: Individual to Collective.” Engaged Scholar Journal, 2(2):11-24.

Multi-sector collaborative partnerships hold much promise in tackling seemingly intractable and complex social issues. However, they often encounter many challenges in achieving their goals. Leadership can play an important role in reducing the impact of factors that threaten a multi-sector partnership’s success. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnerships are collaborative and, in many cases, multi-sectored. While there is a developing literature and practice on multi-sector, collaborative partnerships, leadership in CBPR is relatively unexplored, especially at various partnership stages (i.e., formation, implementation, maintenance, and accomplishment of goal). Through the method of focused ethnography, we explored the research question “How is leadership exercised during the formation stage of a CBPR partnership?” Eighteen partners (government, community, and university sectors) were interviewed about the leadership during the formation stage of their partnership, and data were qualitatively content-analyzed. Partners explained that leadership was exercised during the formation stage through (1) individual characteristics, (2) actions, and (3) as a collective. Our findings illustrate that CBPR leadership shares many of the characteristics of traditional leadership and adapts them to support the collaborative process of CBPR, leading to a collective form of leadership. These findings have implications for the study and practice of CBPR leadership.

Read the full article here.

 

PhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk on Transnational Foodways

Merin OleschukPhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk published an article in Anthropologica that discusses the role of culinary traditions in shaping identity among female South Sudanese refugees living in Alberta. She argues that these ‘foodways’ allowed the women to exercise their agency in their new environment.

Merin Oleschuk is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto studying the impact of social inequalities on food consumption. Her dissertation examines values and practices around home cooking.

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.

Oleschuk, Merin. 2012. “Engendering Transnational Foodways: A Case Study fo Southern Sudanese Women in Brooks, Alberta.” Antropologica, 54(1):119-131.

This article explores the experiences of Southern Sudanese refugee women in Brooks, Alberta, illustrating how “foodways” (Long 2004) impact and reflect women’s conceptions of themselves as gendered, multinational citizens. When women seek out and appropriate diverse culinary traditions to create belonging within multiple circumstances, they enact agency. Women do not passively accept their fractured connections to their homeland but instead actively work to rebuild relation ships within the diversity that defines their experiences in ways that garner them power, prestige and resources to improve their lives. These movements show how gender and power are en twined in the creation of transnational belonging.

Read the full article here.

 

PhD candidate Merin Oleschuk on Authenticity and Exoticism in Ominvorous Food Culture

Merin OleschukMerin Oleschuk has published an article in Cultural Sociology that analyzes racial inequalities in gourmet food culture and the framing of food as exotic and authentic. The article is based on interviews with foodies of colour to explore how they engage with the discourse and finds that both frames of authenticity and exoticism can encourage cross-cultural understanding but also exacerbate cross-cultural differences.

Merin Oleschuk is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto studying the impact of social inequalities on food consumption. Her dissertation examines values and practices around home cooking.

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.

Oleschuk, Merin. 2016. “Foodies of Colour: Authenticity and Exoticism in Omnivorous Food Culture.” Cultural Sociology 11(2):217-233.

Omnivorous cultural theory highlights the persistence of inequalities within gourmet food culture despite its increasing democratization, arguing that foods remain symbols of distinction through their framing as ‘authentic’ and ‘exotic’. Where these two frames have been shown to encompass problematic racial connotations, questions arise over how racial inequalities manifest in foodie discourse. Drawing from interviews with foodies of color living in Toronto, Canada, this article examines how these inequalities are reproduced, adjusted and resisted by people of color. It asks: how do foodies of color interpret and deploy dominant foodie frames of authenticity and exoticism? Analysis reveals each frame’s potential both to encourage cross-cultural understanding and essentialize or exacerbate ethno-cultural difference. Participants’ ambivalent relationship with foodie discourse (i.e. deploying it alongside critiquing it) highlights how cultural capital works alongside ethno-racial inequalities, and reveals the racial tensions remaining within foodies’ attempts to reconcile democracy and distinction.

Read the full article here.

Congratulations to Merin Oleschuk, recipient of CAFS Student Paper Award

Merin OleschukCongratulations go to Merin Oleschuk whose paper, Foodies of Colour: Authenticity and Exoticism in Omnivorous Food Culture” published in Cultural Sociology recently received the Canadian Association for Food Studies’ Student Paper Award. The CAFS established  the Student Paper award in 2011 to recognize scholarly excellence and encourage participation by undergraduate and graduate students. The award is offered annually and includes a $200 prize, a one-year CAFS membership, complimentary conference registration, and a banquet ticket for the CAFS conference.

Merin is currently finishing her PhD program in Sociology at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Professor Josee Johnston. Her dissertation is called “Health and Cooking in Value and Practice: A Mixed Methods Study of Food in Family Life.” In it, she asks how and why people cook what they do at home, looking at both the values related to health and the different meanings of cooking as related to gender, class, and race/ethnicity.

Merin began the winning article as a course paper in the Research Practicum course that all PhD sociology take in their second year of study. Read more about the paper and Merin’s process in writing it here.

PhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk on the Contradictions of Maternal Foodwork

Merin OleschukPhD Candidate Merin Oleschuk recently co-authored a piece on maternal foodwork with Professors Kate Cairns and Josée Johnston that was featured on the Gender & Society blog. The Gender & Society blog posts pieces for a general audience that align with the mandate of the Gender and Society journal.  This blog post examines the careful “balancing act” that mothers perform when deciding what to feed their children according to societal expectations. Using the conceptual figures of the “McDonalds Mom” and the “Organic Mom”, the authors illustrate how mothers are penalized for both healthy and unhealthy choices, and how  different social contexts can perpetuate these undesirable labels or hinder mothers from reaching the acceptable balance. Merin is currently completing her dissertation on how social inequalities shape food and the practices surrounding it.

We have posted an excerpt of the blog post below.

Calibrating Extremes: The Balancing Act of Maternal Foodwork

By Kate Cairns, Josée Johnston and Merin Oleschuk

When it comes to feeding children, mothers today must avoid the appearance of caring too little, or too much. Either extreme garners social stigma, although the penalties are far from equal.

Theresa describes how becoming a mother brought heightened significance to her food decisions. “I really tried to avoid the junk,” she says, hosting a focus group of friends in her Toronto apartment. A mixed-race single mother raising three kids on social assistance, Theresa says the scarcity of time and money makes putting regular healthy meals on the table difficult. But occasionally her efforts pay off. She recalls with pride the time her five-year-old son “went to a birthday party at McDonald’s, came home and threw up because he just wasn’t used to that food.” For Theresa, her son’s intolerance for fast food was evidence of her devoted feeding work.

The specter of the “McDonalds Mom”

When we conducted interviews and focus groups with Toronto women, many mothers described ongoing efforts to feed their kids nutritious meals, while avoiding processed “junk.” In doing so, these women distanced their own feeding practices from an imagined “bad” mother who makes “bad” food choices. Carol (white, producer) admits that she sometimes scrutinizes other grocery carts with a “judgmental eye” when she sees “really awful stuff going down the conveyer belt with kids there.” Tara (a white single-mother who was unable to work due to chronic pain) expressed frustration that her son’s healthy lunches would inevitably be traded for junk because his friends were sent to school with “all this crap.”

As mothers in our study distanced themselves from an unhealthy “Other” who made poor food choices, we were surprised how frequently McDonald’s entered the conversation. McDonald’s seemed to function as a trope symbolizing “easy” meals, “unhealthy” choices, and “bad” mothering more generally. Gail (white, acupuncturist) contrasted her vision of healthy home cooking with a “stereotypical image of someone stopping at McDonald’s to get food for their kids.” Marissa (Black, project manager) confessed that as “busy people we do need to do fast food,” but clarified that “my kids will tell you that does not mean McDonald’s.” Lucia (Latina, social worker) said she and her son “talk about what’s junk and you know, McDonald’s and all that kind of food” in an effort to teach him “what’s healthy, what’s not healthy.”

Again and again, mothers distanced themselves from the figure of the “McDonald’s Mom,” a stigmatized “Other” they used to defend their own feeding practices. While this defense may seem judgmental, we suggest mothers’ efforts to establish this distance reflect the intense pressures they experience feeding their children…

Read the full blog post here.

PhD students Alexandra Rodney, Sarah Cappeliez, Merin Oleschuk & Professor Josée Johnston examine ideals of feminine domesticity in food blogs

Sarah CappeliezMerin Oleschuk

 

Sociology PhD students, Alexandra Rodney, Sarah Cappeliez, Merin Oleschuk, with Associate Professor Josée Johnston have recently published an article in the international multidisciplinary academic journal, Food, Culture & Society. The paper titled “The Online Domestic Goddess: An Analysis of Food Blog Femininities“, analyzes how idealized notions of femininity are demonstrated in blog posts written by female food bloggers.

We have posted the citation and abstract below. The full article is available on the Taylor & Francis Online Database.

Rodney, A., Cappeliez, S., Oleschuk, M., & Johnston, J. (2017). The online domestic goddess: An analysis of food blog femininities. Food, Culture & Society, 20(4), 685-707. doi:10.1080/15528014.2017.1357954

Scholars have explored how female food celebrities represent a realm of fantasy and desire, embodying attractive “domestic goddesses” who showcase the wonder and seduction of home-cooked meals. These studies have largely focused on television personalities and have overlooked the food blogosophere, a highly popular, digital realm of food media dominated by women. The blogosphere has its own prominent food personalities and occupies a central role as a source of information and inspiration for home cooks. This paper investigates how idealized food femininities manifest on popular food blogs by examining 426 blog posts written by twenty-two award-winning, female food bloggers. These bloggers forward a vision of idealized feminine domesticity that is glamorously seductive and rooted in the “real” life of everyday home cooks. This article illuminates food blogs’ paradoxical combination of idealization and mundanity. It argues that the online domestic goddess exemplifies women’s need to balance multiple, seemingly contradictory ideals: she must embody domestic success, while avoiding associations of perfectionism, excessive control, or laziness. This study of female bloggers nuances scholarly understanding of the domestic goddess fantasy by revealing the deep tensions in women’s food blogs, particularly the challenge of crafting a credible and appealing feminine voice in a postfeminist context.

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

 

 

 

P2P: Authentic, Exotic and Racialized Food

Every student in the Sociology PhD program at the University of Toronto completes the Research Practicum course in their second year. This course involves each student working directly on a research project with a faculty member through the various stages of research and writing while also meeting with other graduate students in the course to tackle the hurdles of clarifying, strengthening, and sharpening one’s ideas in a journal-length research article. In this series, we highlight the practicum papers that went on to become published articles, and the students who wrote them.

Oleschuk, Merin. “Foodies of Colour: Authenticity and Exoticism in Omnivorous Food Culture”. Cultural Sociology. 2016 doi: 10.1177/1749975516668709

Merin enteremerin-oleschukd the PhD program knowing that she wanted to work with Professors Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann on research related to the sociology of food. Intrigued by their research on Foodies (2007; 2015) which builds on omnivorous cultural theory and highlights the persistence of inequalities within gourmet food culture despite its increasing democratization, Merin was curious about the ethno-racial inequalities that are embedded in foods being seen as “authentic” and/or “exotic.” This curiosity marked the genesis of her practicum paper.

Merin enrolled in the Research Practicum in 2013 and immediately set out to collect the data she needed for the paper. Her background in anthropology, working within the areas of ethnicity and food, provided her with the substantive knowledge and methodological skills needed to carry out the research. The data collection consisted of conducting 20 semi-structured qualitative interviews with foodies of colour in Toronto. She then analyzed these interviews alongside five additional interviews with foodies of colour that were shared with her from work done for one of Professor Johnston’s related research projects.

Merin’s analysis finds that the frames of “authenticity” and “exoticism” each possess the potential both to encourage cross-cultural understanding and to essentialize or exacerbate ethno-cultural difference. Study participants in this project drew from foodie discourse to determine what they considered “good food”, but they also critiqued it for perpetuating ethno-racial inequalities, such as by making them feel tokenized or “Othered” in the process. On an individual level, participants’ own ethno-racial identities provided them with greater access to cultural capital because they had (or were perceived to have) ties to foods that foodies often valorized – others often looked to them to pass judgement on a food’s “authenticity” or have insider knowledge into the “exotic.”  In her paper, Merin stresses that this does not mean, however, that the frames of “authenticity” and “exoticism” necessarily disrupt the racial and economic ideological structures propping them up. Ultimately, the endowment of cultural capital in foodie culture is still attained through economic privilege and at the expense of reinforcing stereotypes that sustain ethno-racial inequalities.

While writing her paper, Merin received valuable feedback from her practicum supervisors, Josée Johnston, Monica Boyd, Ann Mullen, Ronit Divonitzer, and Phil Goodman as well as fellow students in her cohort. Merin particularly appreciates that the format of the practicum gave her practice presenting her paper orally in front of the group, and gave her insight into questions that the research commonly raises. Merin then submitted and presented a draft of the paper for presentation at the American Sociological Association and Canadian Sociological Association annual meetings that year. Feedback from these presentations helped to further refine the paper for publication. She submitted the paper to Cultural Sociology the following year, and it was accepted for publication. The practicum process ultimately provided Merin with the valuable opportunity to publish a sole authored paper early in her program.

By now, Merin has completed her coursework and is working on a dissertation that she has titled Health and Cooking in Value and Practice: A Mixed Methods Study of Food in Family Life. While still in the general area of sociology of food, the dissertation project charts a slightly different course from the one taken in this paper. In general, her dissertation examines the relationship between peoples’ values and practices when cooking at home, particularly within a context where home cooking is advocated as a key strategy for promoting family health. She uses diverse qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore how and why people cook what they do, while taking into account that the meaning of cooking varies across social positions such as gender, class, and race/ethnicity.

U of T at the 2016 ASA

University of Toronto Sociology at the Annual Meeting of the 2016 American Sociological Association

Our Sociology faculty members and graduate students are very active with the American Sociological Association, with over 60 of them appearing in this year’s program either as presented or an organizer of a panel. See the program for more information. Here are some of the highlights:

Saturday, August 20

Irene Boeckmann

Fatherhood and Breadwinning: Race and Class Differences in First-time Fathers’ Long-term Employment Patterns

Monica Boyd; Naomi Lightman

Gender, Nativity and Race in Care Work: The More Things Change….

Clayton Childress

I Don’t Make Objects, I Make Projects: Selling Things and Selling Selves in Contemporary Art-making

Jennifer Jihye Chun

Globalizing the Grassroots: Care Worker Organizing and the Redefinition of 21st Century Labour Politics

Paulina Garcia del Moral

Feminicidio, Transnational Human Rights Advocacy and Transnational Legal Activism

Phil Goodman

Conservative Politics, Sacred Crows, and Sacrificial Lambs: The Role of ‘Evidence’ During Canada’s Prison Farm Closures

Josee Johnston

Spitting that Real vs. Keeping It Misogynistic: Hip-Hop, Class, and Masculinity in New Food Media

Andrew Miles

Measuring Automatic Cognition: Practical Advances for Sociological Research Using Dual-process Models

Atsushi Narisada

Palatable Unjust Desserts: How Procedural Justice Weakens the Pain of Perceived Pay Inequity

David Nicholas Pettinicchio

The Universalizing Effects of Unionism: Policy, Inequality and Disability

Markus H. Schafer

Social Networks and Mastery after Driving Cessation: A Gendered Life Course Approach

Lawrence Hamilton Williams

Active Intuition: The Patterned Spontaneity of Decision-making

 

Sunday, August 21

Sida Liu

The Elastic Ceiling: Gender and Professional Career in Chinese Courts

Jonathan Tomas Koltai; Scott Schieman; Ronit Dinovitzer

Status-based Stress Exposure and Well-being in the Legal Profession

Andrew Miles

Turf Wars of Truly Understanding Culture? Moving Beyond Isolation and Importation to Genuine Cross-disciplinary Engagement

Melissa A. Milkie

Time Deficits with Children: The Relationship to Mothers’ and Fathers’ Mental and Physical Health

Diana Lee Miller

Sustainable and Unsustainable Semi-Professionalism: Grassroots Music Careers in Folk and Metal

Ito Peng

Care and Migration Policies in Japan and South Korea

Scott Schieman; Atsushi Narisada

Under-rewarded Boss: Gender, Workplace Power, and the Distress of Perceived Pay Inequity

 

Monday, August 22

Salina Abji

Because Deportation is Violence Against Women: On the Politics of State Responsibility and Women’s Human Rights

Holly Campeau

The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Blueville War: Policing, Standards, and Cultural Match

Bahar Hashemi

Canadian Newspaper Representations of Family violence among Immigrant Communities: Analyzing Shifts Over Time

Vanina Leschziner

The American Fame Game: Academic Status and Public Renown in Post-war Social Sciences

Ron Levi; Ioana Vladescu

The Structure of Claims after Atrocity: Justifications, Values, and Proposals from the Holocaust Swiss Banks Litigation

Patricia Louie

Whose Body Matters? Representations of Race and Skin Colour in Medical Textbooks

William Magee; Laura Upenieks

Supervisory Level and Anger About Work

Maria M. Majerski

The Economic Integration of Immigrants: Social Networks, Social Capital, and the Impact of Gender

Melissa A. Milkie

You Must Work Hard: Changes in U.S. Adults’ Values for Children 1986-2012

Jean-Francois Nault

Education, Religion, and Identity in French Ontario: A Case Study of French-language Catholic School Choice

Merin Oleschuk; Blair Wheaton

The Relevance of Women’s Income on Household Gender Inequality Across Class and National Context

David Nicholas Pettinicchio

Punctuated Incrementalism: How American Disability Rights Policymaking Sheds Light on Institutional Continuity and Change

 

Tuesday, Aug. 23

Katelin Albert

Making the Classroom, Making Sex Ed: A School-based Ethnography of Ontario’s Sexual Health Classrooms

Catherine Man Chuen Cheng

Constructing Immigrant Citizen-subjects in Exceptional States: Governmentality and Chinese Marriage Migrants in Taiwan and HongKong

Hae Yeon Choo

Maternal Guardians: Intimate Labor, Migration, and the Pursuit of Gendered Citizenship in South Korea

Bonnie H. Erickson

Multiple Pathways to Ethnic Social Capitals

  1. Omar Faruque

Confronting Capital: The Limits of Transnational Activism and Human Rights-based CSR Initiatives

Elise Maiolino

I’m not Male, not White, Want to Start There?: Identity Work in Toronto’s Mayoral Election

Jaime Nikolaou

Commemorating Morgentaler? Reflections on Movement Leadership, 25 Years Later

Kristie O’Neill

Traditional Beneficiaries: Trade Bans, Exemptions, and Morality Embodied in Diets

Matthew Parbst; Blair Wheaton

The Buffering Role of the Welfare State on SES differences in Depression

Luisa Farah Schwartzman

Brazilian Lives Matter, and what Race and the United States Got to do With it

Daniel Silver

Visual Social Thought

Laura Upenieks

Beyond America? Cross-national Contexts and Religious versus Secular Membership Effects on Self-rated Health

Barry Wellman

Older Adults Networking On and Off Digital Media: Initial Findings from the Fourth East York Study

Blair Wheaton; Patricia Joy Louie

A New Perspective on Maternal Employment and Child Mental Health: A Cautionary Tale

Tony Huiquan Zhang

Weather Effects on Social Movements: Evidence from Washington D.C. and New York City, 1960-1995