PhD Candidate Gabriel Menard, in collaboration with Professor Robert Brym and Melissa Godbout, Andreas Hoffbauer, and Tony Huiquan Zhang, on Social Media in the 2011 Egyptian Uprising

Gabe MenardAndreas Hoffbauer

Ph.D. Candidates Gabriel Menard and Melissa Godbout, in collaboration with Professor Robert Brym, and PhD graduates Andreas Hoffbauer, and Tony Huiquan Zhang, have published an article in The British Journal of Sociology, entitled “Social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising.” The article examines the role of new electronic communications media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising.

Gabriel Menard is a Ph.D. Candidate of sociology at the University of Toronto. He has successfully defended his dissertation proposal, entitled Explaining Variation in the Development of Regulatory Regimes: Network Neutrality and Internet Service Provision Regulations in the U.S. and UK, 1984-2015. Melissa Godbout is a Ph.D. Candidate of sociology at the University of Toronto. She has successfully defended his dissertation proposal, entitled Corruption, Employment Inconsistency, and Getting Ahead.

Robert Brym is a professor of sociology and S.D. Clark Chair in Sociology at the University of Toronto. He has conducted research on the sociology of intellectuals, social movements in Canada, Jews in Russia, and collective and state violence in Israel and Palestine. Currently, his research focuses on the democracy movement in the Middle East and North Africa.  Andreas Hoffbauer and Tony Zhang both received their PhDs in 2018.

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

Brym, R., Godbout, M., Hoffbauer, A., Menard, G., & Zhang, T. H. (2014). Social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising. The British Journal of Sociology, 65(2), 266-292. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12080

This paper uses Gallup poll data to assess two narratives that have crystallized around the 2011 Egyptian uprising: (1) New electronic communications media constituted an important and independent cause of the protests in so far as they enhanced the capacity of demonstrators to extend protest networks, express outrage, organize events, and warn comrades of real‐time threats. (2) Net of other factors, new electronic communications media played a relatively minor role in the uprising because they are low‐cost, low‐risk means of involvement that attract many sympathetic onlookers who are not prepared to engage in high‐risk activism. Examining the independent effects of a host of factors associated with high‐risk movement activism, the paper concludes that using some new electronic communications media was associated with being a demonstrator. However, grievances, structural availability, and network connections were more important than was the use of new electronic communications media in distinguishing demonstrators from sympathetic onlookers. Thus, although both narratives have some validity, they must both be qualified.

PhD graduate Tony Zhang and Professor Brym publish on Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries

Tony ZhangPh.D. graduate Tony Huiquan Zhang and Professor Robert Brym have published an article in Sociological Forum. The article studies how tolerance of homosexuality is jointly shaped by individual educational attainment and political freedom. The main finding is that in free societies, education is a liberalizing force as scholars expected. However, in non-free societies, education does not bring tolerance.

Tony Huiquan Zhang obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto in March 2018. He currently works at St. Thomas More College and the University of Saskatchewan as an Assistant Professor of Sociology. His research concerns public opinion research, social movements, and Chinese politics.

We have published a link to the article here. The abstract is reprinted below.

Tony Huiquan Zhang and Robert Brym (2019) Tolerance of Homosexuality in 88 Countries: Education, Political Freedom, and Liberalism, Sociological Forum, 34(2).

Researchers have repeatedly found a positive correlation between education and tolerance. However, they may be victims of an unrepresentative sample containing only rich Western liberal democracies, where political agenda have a liberalizing effect on curricula. In this paper, we specify the relationship between education and liberal attitudes by analyzing data on educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality (one dimension of liberalism) drawn from a heterogeneous sample of 88 countries over the period 1981–2014. We argue that nonliberal political agendas in some countries undermine the supposed universality of the positive relationship between educational attainment and tolerance of homosexuality. In relatively free countries, education is indeed associated with greater tolerance. However, in relatively unfree countries, education has no effect on tolerance and in some cases encourages intolerance. Specifically, our analysis demonstrates that education is associated with tolerance of homosexuality only when regimes energetically promote liberal‐democratic values. The larger theoretical point is that the agendas of political regimes shape civic values partly via education systems. Especially in an era when democracy is at risk in many countries, it is important to recognize that education is not always a benign force.

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




Two best student papers from our PhD students

Anna SlavinaTony ZhangCongratulations to Anna Slavina and Tony Huiquan Zhang who each received Best Student Paper Awards from their sections of the Canadian Sociology Association.

Anna Slavina’s paper,  “Cultures of Engagement: Crossnational Differences in Political Action Repertoires,” received the Best Student Paper award from the Political Sociology and Social Movements section of the CSA.  Anna is currently a doctoral candidate in Sociology working on her dissertation, Repertoires of Political Engagement: Individual and Contextual Factors. Her PhD committee consists of Robert Brym (Supervisor), Geoff Wodtke, and Ron Levi

Paper Abstract

This paper argues for a greater focus on the role of culture in the study of cross-national patterns of activism. Country-level differences in political engagement are generally studied through an index of activism that collapses several distinct activities into one composite measure or with a focus on only one type of political engagement (e.g. average levels of protest attendance). These differences are typically explained by measures of national wealth, inequality and institutional structures at the contextual level, and personal resources and postmaterialist values at the individual level. I argue that the above approaches have not paid enough attention to the role of culture, either as country specific patterns of engagement, or as individual repertoires for political action. This paper presents findings from a series of Latent Class Analysis (LCA) models based on nationally representative samples from 34 countries. The findings suggest that different forms of political engagement cluster into country specific repertoires of activism. Based on these findings, I argue that variations in patterns of political engagement reflect differences in “styles” or cultural “toolkits” for political action (Swidler, 1986). These national toolkits are conditioned by broader political culture, beliefs and practices.


Tony Huiquan Zhang’s paper, “The Rise of the Princelings in China: Career Advantages and Collective Elite Reproduction,” won Best Student Paper from the Comparative and Historical Sociology section. Tony is a doctoral candidate in Sociology expecting to graduate this fall and begin a new position as Assistant Professor at St. Thomas More College. His dissertation is Contextual Effects and Support for Liberalism: A Comparative Analysis and he is supervised by Robert Brym (Supervisor), Bob Andersen, and Weiguo Zhang.

Paper Abstract

How have China’s princelings benefitted from their family backgrounds in the advancement of their political careers? This study challenges existing factionalist and meritocracy theories of China’s political elites both theoretically and methodologically by developing a theory of collective elite reproduction. Based on quantitative biographical data of more than 270 princelings, the quantitative analyses show that princelings have advantages over non-princeling officials in the Central Committee. Within the princelings, however, ostensible family advantages such as parents’ rank and longevity do not significantly contribute to promotion. The qualitative analysis of princelings’ autobiographies and memoirs suggests that China’s elite reproduction is collective-based and strongly shaped by the state, distinguishing it from elite reproduction based on individual or family ties.

Tony Zhang to begin new position as Assistant Professor at St. Thomas More College

Tony ZhangThis fall, doctoral candidate Tony Zhang will begin a new position as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Thomas More College in the University of Saskatchewan. Tony is currently completing his dissertation, Contextual Effects and Support for Liberalism: A Comparative Analysis, under the supervision of Professors Robert Brym (supervisor), Bob Andersen (Western) and Weiguo Zhang. He expects to defend his dissertation this summer and graduate in November 2017.

Tony’s dissertation abstract is as follows:

The dissertatiostudies how social contexts, especially contextual variations in political freedom, shape an individual’s liberal attitudes. It raises empirical challenges and methodological critiques of current literature using the case of China (Chapter 2). To fill the gaps that I perceive in the literature, I suggest considering political freedom as an additional predictor of the individual-level support for liberalism and validate my argument through a comparative analysis of 88 societies in the World Values Survey data (1981-2014). The comparative analysis (Chapter 3) finds countries of different levels of political freedom have drastically different value change patterns: politically free societies largely follow the existing Inglehart thesis; in politically unfree societies, however, the upper class and well educated populations are neutral or sometimes more conservative than other demographic groups. These findings suggest political regimes, especially non-free regimes such as autocracies, theocracies and dictatorships, actively manipulate the educational system to slow down value liberalization processes. To corroborate this suggestion, Chapter 4 pays close attention to the case of Taiwan, a society which experienced democratization during the 1980s and the 1990s, to see if the democratization led to educational reforms and, if so, whether they resulted in their intended goals. The empirical analysis of Taiwan supports the suggestion that a liberal educational reform makes younger cohorts who receive the reformed education more liberal. To sum up, based on empirical findings, the dissertation argues the political context is critical in shaping individual value orientations. The educational system is an important medium through which the political system promotes its preferred ideologies or cultural hegemony in Gramsci’s terms. The policy implication is that political change is a critical prerequisite for successful democratization and a healthy civil society; value liberalization can only be effective after political systems and educational systems are freed.

St. Thomas More College is a Catholic undergraduate liberal arts college located in Saskatoon and federated with the University of Saskatchewan. As an Assistant Professor, Tony expects to teach courses in introduction to sociology, collective behaviour and social movements, and deviance and crime in society. Tony plans to continue his research in public opinion studies, social movements and politics in East Asia.

PhD Candidate Tony Zhang on the power of weather

Tony ZhangDoctoral Candidate Tony Zhang recently published an article looking at the effects of weather on the likelihood of social movements and how people’s sensitivity to weather conditions reflects the macro political opportunity context. Tony is currently completing his dissertation entitled Contextual Effects and Support for Liberalism: A Comparative Analysis. The article came out in 2016 in the Weather, Climate and Society, a journal of the American Meteorological Society. Below is the citation and abstract.

Tony Huiquan Zhang (2016) “Weather and Social Movement: Evidence from New York City and Washington D.C., 1960-1995”, Weather, Climate and Society., 8(3), 299-311. DOI:10.1175/WCAS-D-15-0072.1.

Abstract: Scholars have been taking the impact of weather on social movements for granted for some time, despite a lack of supporting empirical evidence. This paper takes the topic more seriously, analyzing more than 7000 social movement events and 36 years of weather records in Washington, D.C., and New York City (1960–95). Here, “good weather” is defined as midrange temperature and little to no precipitation. This paper uses negative binomial regression models to predict the number of social movements per day and finds social movements are more likely to happen on good days than bad, with seasonal patterns controlled for. Results from logistic regression models indicate violence occurs more frequently at social movement events when it is warmer. Most interestingly, the effect of weather is more salient when there are more political opportunities and resources available. This paper discusses the implications and suggests future research on weather and social movement studies.

The full article is available here.

BJS Prize for article on social media in the Egyptian Uprising

bjs-certificateCongratulations to Professor Robert Brym and graduate students Melissa Godbout, Andreas Hoffbauer, Gabe Menard and Tony Huiquan Zhang who recently received the British Journal of Sociology 2016 Prize for their co-authored article, Social Media in the 2011 Egyptian Uprising.

Established in 2009, the BJS award is presented bi-annually to the authors of an article published in the past 24 months that “in the opinion of the judges, makes an outstanding contribution to increasing sociological knowledge.” The article by Brym, Godbout, Hoffbauer, Menard and Zhang was published in May 2014. Professor Brym recently attended the BJS Annual Lecture at the London School of Economics and accepted the prize on behalf of the team. While there, he recorded a short podcast about the paper and the experience writing, publishing and receiving the honour. Congratulations to all five authors!

You can access the winning paper here. The following is the citation and abstract:

Brym, R., Godbout, M., Hoffbauer, A., Menard, G. and Zhang, T. H. (2014), Social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising. The British Journal of Sociology, 65: 266–292. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12080

This paper uses Gallup poll data to assess two narratives that have crystallized around the 2011 Egyptian uprising: (1) New electronic communications media constituted an important and independent cause of the protests in so far as they enhanced the capacity of demonstrators to extend protest networks, express outrage, organize events, and warn comrades of real-time threats. (2) Net of other factors, new electronic communications media played a relatively minor role in the uprising because they are low-cost, low-risk means of involvement that attract many sympathetic onlookers who are not prepared to engage in high-risk activism. Examining the independent effects of a host of factors associated with high-risk movement activism, the paper concludes that using some new electronic communications media was associated with being a demonstrator. However, grievances, structural availability, and network connections were more important than was the use of new electronic communications media in distinguishing demonstrators from sympathetic onlookers. Thus, although both narratives have some validity, they must both be qualified.

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