Sociology graduate student S.W. Underwood recently spoke on the CIUT radio show We Are U of T about trans organizing at U of T. The interview begins at minute 7.40
Professor Hae Yeon Choo discusses her new book on gender, migration and citizenship on the Gender & Society Blog.
By Hae Yeon Choo
She seemed to come out of nowhere, and walked fast towards us. It was two weeks ago, and we—three Asian and Asian-Canadian women faculty members—had just come out of a meeting. As we were continuing our discussion on the sidewalk on campus, the stranger, a middle-aged white woman, shouted at us: “Do you not speak English?!” She then walked away, mumbling something about “thieves” and “stealing.” An encounter like this happens regularly enough that I have come to expect it. As a sociologist, it is not surprising. However multicultural my city may be—and I do claim Toronto as my city—I live in a place with a long history of treating Asian immigrants as “forever foreigners.” And certainly this is not just a story of the past. Consider the surge of recent impassioned responses from the Asian American community with the hashtag #thisis2016, after the publication of an
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Professor Hae Yeon Choo’s new book was recently profiled on the University of Toronto Mississauga’s News site.
Women’s work: New book by UTM prof examines migrant labour and citizenship in South Korea
A new book by a U of T Mississauga sociology professor Hae Yeon Choo reveals how inequalities of gender, race and class affect migrant workers’ rights and citizenship in South Korea.
In Decentering Citizenship: Gender, Labor, and Migrant Rights in South Korea, Choo examines the experiences of Filipina women employed in the suburbs of Seoul. Choo spent 18 months observing and interviewing the women—factory workers, bar hostesses and “marriage migrants”—examining how they integrated with, or were excluded from, South Korean society.
“When we look at migrants, we see how people must navigate the paradox of social inequality with the promise of equal membership,” says Choo. “It’s not an abstract idea of human rights or citizenship, but rather day-to-day negotiations that these migrants undertake as mothers, as workers, as women.”
“I was interested in how these migrants negotiate their rights, and what it means for them to be South Korean,” she says. “Social inequality of race, gender or class significantly shapes migrant rights in very concrete ways.”
Choo cites immigration raids in working class neighbourhoods, surprise document checks in public spaces, lack of worker rights, and hostility or dismissive treatment from South Koreans as some of the daily indignities suffered by migrants. “People talk down to them, underpay them or avoid interacting with them,” she says. “For many undocumented migrants, being “illegal” poses an added stigma, as some South Koreans perceive them as law-breakers and criminals.”
There are about 1.57 million migrants in South Korea, accounting for about 3.1 per cent of the national population. This includes about 24,000 Filipina women with temporary visas to work in factories or as “entertainers” in hostess bars, as well as about 10,000 ‘marriage migrants’ wed to South Korean men. A further 5,500 women are considered undocumented, employed in factories or performing domestic work.
South Korea’s strong sense of national ethnic identity and stringent labour laws that require workers to return to their home countries keep migrant workers on the edges of society, making it difficult to integrate into the culture, achieve permanent residency or make plans for the future.
“Women who come through marriage have the best possibility of long-term stabilization and permanent residence,” Choo says.
Sex and the Single Worker: Who’s Cynical about Work-Life Balance?
John Kervin, University of Toronto
Mark Easton, University of Toronto
UT Sociology Working Paper No. 2016-03
Keywords: work-life balance, gender, household structure
Increasing numbers of employers are instituting policies and practices to address the problems of employees’ work-life balance (WLB), particularly employees with children. At the same time, some workplaces are seeing a backlash against those initiatives. In particular, single employees and those in couples without children may feel discriminated against by policies that favour parents. This paper explores attitudes towards employers’ work-life balance policies and practices, using data from a national survey of Canadian employees. It also asks whether female employees who are now single or in non-parent couples (but who might have children in the future) are more accepting of WLB initiatives. The results show that in general women are not more favourable to WLB, but that attitudes depend on household structure.
University of Toronto Sociology Working Paper 2016-03
Professor Neda Maghbouleh from UTM’s Department of Sociology says she is enjoying a sweet spot of satisfaction that she attributes to the string of successes she’s had of late: her first book, The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian-Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race, is being published by Stanford University Press and has been called “groundbreaking,” and the recently funded research projects she is working on have the potential for significant social impact.
“I feel like I am in the ‘pink cloud’ of happiness right now, where my new projects haven’t hit roadblocks yet,” says Maghbouleh, who is currently following three streams in her research.
First, Maghbouleh is embarking on a new collaboration with Professors Melissa Milkie (UTM) and Ito Peng (UTSG) with funds awarded this fall by a rapid response, targeted opportunity to study Syrian newcomers and integration.
This project is supported by a joint initiative through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Their research team will focus on assessing parenting and integration stress among Syrian newcomer parents whose children have integrated into local schools at the elementary- and secondary-school levels.
S.W. Underwood is a PhD student in Sociology with a specialization in gender, family, and critical cultural studies. The recipient of a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier doctoral scholarship, his current research examines gender and family formation among gay men in the transition to parenthood. With Ben Vincent, a PhD student at the University of Leeds, Underwood recently published an Op Ed in the Torontoist discussing trans rights at the University of Toronto. The piece appeared on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 and the complete article is available online . The following is an excerpt of the longer article.
Why We Should Stand Up For Trans Rights and Recognition at the University of Toronto
Non-binary students deserve support from U of T faculty, not professors who cast aspersions.
Being transgender is often difficult. In 2015, Ontario researchers found that more than half of trans people have clinical depression, while 43 per cent had a history of attempting suicide [PDF]. Twenty-eight per cent of trans Ontarians could not get employment references with their current name or pronoun, and 58 per cent could not get academic transcripts with the correct name or gender, severely limiting their success on the job market.
Scientific consensus suggests neither biological nor cultural aspects of gender can be adequately explained within a binary [PDF]. Instead, gender develops in a web of environmental and physiological factors, forming diverse bodies and gender identities.
Recognizing the unique needs of transgender people, the Province of Ontario has recently launched public consultations to develop a more comprehensive method for collecting gender data. At the federal level, Bill C-16 aims to curb discrimination based on gender identity.
But not everyone is satisfied with the proposed changes. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto who specializes in religious belief and personality, stated in an interview with the CBC’s As It Happens that he refuses to call non-binary transgender students by their pronouns, due to the purported absence of scientific evidence “that gender identity and biological sexuality are independently varying constructs.”
Biological sexuality? Exactly what is this? Clearly not sexual orientation. In the science on gender, such a concept holds no clout. Even if Peterson intended to refer to “sex,” his claims falter anyway.
What happens when first-time mothers take maternity leave?
For one thing, they begin to socialize with each other. With months or years away from the workforce and a whole new identity as a parent, women often seek out groups where they share parenting-related knowledge and, in many cases, gain emotional and social support. The women benefit in obvious ways – they feel less isolated, they share knowledge and insights, and they experience mental and physical health benefits.
But the benefits may also reach beyond the individual.
A new research project undertaken by Professor Neda Maghbouleh will study the ways in which involvement in mothers’ groups affects civic engagement, and how this varies in different parts of the city and by different axes of inequality.
In Toronto, there are examples of mothers’ groups, initially formed for post-partum socialization, that engage in civic work like neighbourhood revitalization, refugee sponsorship, and local fundraising. Some of the groups are formally organized by provinces and local municipalities and led by public health nurses or social workers; others are formally or informally established among neighbours, library patrons, or local café “regulars.” In either case, they are deeply embedded in the local community.
Which might explain a growth of civic engagement.
It is unlikely, however, that the experience is uniform across the city. Social life in Toronto has increasingly polarized around axes of inequality like income/class, immigration status, and race/ethnicity/religion. Given rising levels of inequity in the city, any positive outcomes associated with mothers’ groups are likely to be deeply entwined with, and shaped by, social inequality
Professor Maghbouleh has recently received a Connaught New Researcher Award to fund the initial stages of this project. With this funding, she and a graduate student will map the formal and informal mothers’ groups in Toronto and conduct pilot interviews with a strategically sampled selection of the women in these groups.
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
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….
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
Conservative Politics, Sacred Crows, and Sacrificial Lambs: The Role of ‘Evidence’ During Canada’s Prison Farm Closures
Spitting that Real vs. Keeping It Misogynistic: Hip-Hop, Class, and Masculinity in New Food Media
Measuring Automatic Cognition: Practical Advances for Sociological Research Using Dual-process Models
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
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
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
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
Because Deportation is Violence Against Women: On the Politics of State Responsibility and Women’s Human Rights
The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Blueville War: Policing, Standards, and Cultural Match
Canadian Newspaper Representations of Family violence among Immigrant Communities: Analyzing Shifts Over Time
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
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
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
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
- Omar Faruque
Confronting Capital: The Limits of Transnational Activism and Human Rights-based CSR Initiatives
I’m not Male, not White, Want to Start There?: Identity Work in Toronto’s Mayoral Election
Commemorating Morgentaler? Reflections on Movement Leadership, 25 Years Later
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
Visual Social Thought
Beyond America? Cross-national Contexts and Religious versus Secular Membership Effects on Self-rated Health
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
Professor Hae Yeon Choo is Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto, Mississauga, and Affiliated Faculty of the Asian Institute and the Women and Gender Studies Institute. Her new book Decentering Citizenship examines the varying claims to citizenship rights of Filipina migrants in South Korea.
Stanford Press provides the following synopsis
Decentering Citizenship follows three groups of Filipina migrants’ struggles to belong in South Korea: factory workers claiming rights as workers, wives of South Korean men claiming rights as mothers, and hostesses at American military clubs who are excluded from claims—unless they claim to be victims of trafficking. Moving beyond laws and policies, Hae Yeon Choo examines how rights are enacted, translated, and challenged in daily life and ultimately interrogates the concept of citizenship.
Choo reveals citizenship as a language of social and personal transformation within the pursuit of dignity, security, and mobility. Her vivid ethnography of both migrants and their South Korean advocates illuminates how social inequalities of gender, race, class, and nation operate in defining citizenship. Decentering Citizenship argues that citizenship emerges from negotiations about rights and belonging between South Koreans and migrants. As the promise of equal rights and full membership in a polity erodes in the face of global inequalities, this decentering illuminates important contestation at the margins of citizenship.
S.W. Underwood is a PhD student in Sociology with a specialization in gender, family, and critical cultural studies. The recipient of a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier doctoral scholarship, his current research examines gender and family formation among gay men in the transition to parenthood. S.W. recently published an Op Ed in the Toronto Star discussing the gender categories in the Canadian Census. The piece appeared on Friday, May 6, 2016 and the complete article is available online. The following is an excerpt of the longer article.
Census needs to reflect modern reality about gender
Ongoing belief in only ‘females’ and ‘males’ obscures variation among us – perpetuating delusions about gender that have consequences, including the gender wage gap, unequal parental leave policies and violence towards women
After 10 years, the long-form Canadian census is back. Young Canadians, primed by a decade of digital media saturation, flocked online in droves so large we took down the website.
It makes sense — and it’s not just false enthusiasm as we collectively do our duty because “it’s the law.” A generation used to sharing its descriptive statistics online (finding friends, networking, dating) would intuitively understand the benefit of the census. Understanding the sociodemographic landscape helps us know and better service ourselves. And after all, that’s what millennials want: a fairer and more representative social democracy.
Yet, as Canadians fill out the census, some gawk at the glaring anachronism of the gender binary, the idea that there are two mutually exclusive genders: males and females, who occupy distinct cultural, social, and sexual roles.
But we know this isn’t true. The recent media awakening to transgender people (Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings) is evidence that gender variance has gone mainstream.
If we recognize men and women who identify with the genders they were assigned at birth (cisgender) and we recognize men and women who do not identify with their assigned gender (transgender), then surely we agree this difference is worth recording.
As my friend quipped, “Well, they’re not asking about gender. They’re asking about sex!” His point reflects the growing awareness about gender as the patterns of behaviour and expression associated with its respective sex categories. This is good. It shows a recognition of people whose self-concepts do not match the gender assigned them at birth.
Yet, even if we set aside the assumption that transgender people identify with one gender but really have a different ‘sex,’ is Statistics Canada only interested in who has which genitals? I think not. Why then has the cultural recognition of gender-variance not translated into instrumental traction among knowledge producers like Statistics Canada?