Category Archives: Health and Mental Health

“What if I don’t take my meds?” Amy Klassen’s research has the answer

tc-coverCongratulations to Doctoral Candidate Amy Lynn Klassen who recently published an article about the governance of non-compliant psychiatric patients under the law, and its implications for understanding capability and risk. She thanks SSHRC for funding the research that resulted in this publication. The full article is currently behind a paywall. For those with access, it is available online ahead of print here. Below is the citation and abstract.

Amy Lynn Klassen (2016) Spinning the Revolving Door: The Governance of Non-Compliant Psychiatric Subjects on Community Treatment Orders. Theoretical Criminology: Published Online Before Print, May 2016 DOI: 0.1177/1362480616646623

This article examines the enactment of community treatment orders (CTOs) in Alberta, Canada to illustrate how civil law is used to constitute and govern psychiatric patients in the community. I argue that the logic of CTOs constitutes the psychiatric patient as a fractured subject who is simultaneously capable/incapable of making medical decisions and at risk/risky. These paradoxical characterizations highlight how depictions of rationality and choice are contingent on consenting to a pharmacological regime designed to normalize these patients. This construction functions to eliminate opportunities for rationally informed types of non-compliance and promotes hospitalization as the only way to manage harmful, risky and non-conforming individuals. I contend that CTOs are a flawed instrument of regulation that cannot manage ‘legally’ capable but non-compliant individuals.

Scott Schieman on BNN: rethinking work-life balance

schieman-media-photoProfessor Scott Schieman was recently interviewed by the Business News Network on a segment about Work-Life Balance. In the segment, Professor Schieman draws on findings from his CIHR-funded national study into work-life stress among Canadians. Professor Schieman is currently the Chair of the St. George Campus Department of Sociology and he is a Canada Research Chair in the Social Contexts of Health. You can watch the full interview here. BNN also includes a summary on their website.

From the BNN Website:

Traditional approach to work-life balance isn’t ‘realistic’, warns U of T researcher

As many Canadians prepare to change their routines with New Year’s resolutions, some will shift their sights to achieving a greater work-life balance.

However, a researcher from the University of Toronto told BNN on Tuesday that the idea of work-life balance itself may be unattainable.

“Our research shows when people think about balance, they think about work on one side of a scale — with its demands, time, attention, energy — and the other side should be equally balanced. That’s often not feasible or realistic,” University of Toronto Canada research Chair Scott Schieman told BNN. “So what it does is it makes people feel like the problems are more personal rather than putting them in a more strategic position and a more realistic position to negotiate their needs in terms of work and family.”

One of the keys to making the work-life balance goal more realistic, according to Schieman, is shifting the idea away from a perfect balance between personal time and workplace obligation and more toward finding a better fit for each within one’s own life.

“If you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions, people look for meaning in their [lives] and one of the ways they look for meaning is they identify the main source of pleasures and rewards in their roles but also how the stressors and demands of those roles take a toll on them,” Schieman said.

“When people switch to the idea of fit, they get themselves out of the mindset that’s quite harmful which is: ‘I need to balance everything and I need to feel balanced.’ Often – if you’re working full-time or working more than full-time – that’s just not feasible.”

Watch the interview here.

Anelyse Weiler on health care for Migrant

AnelyseAnelyse Weiler is a PhD student in Sociology with research focusing on migrant farm workers in Canada. With two medical co-authors, Anelyse recently published an article on the BC Medical Journal’s blog. The BC Medical Journal is a general publication for the continuing education of physicians in British Columbia. The blog consists of “short timely pieces for online publication…on any health-related topic.” The piece appeared on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 and the complete article is available online . The following is an excerpt of the longer article.

Coming to Grips with Health Barriers and Structural Violence for Migrant Farmworkers: A role for BC physicians

“In Kelowna I walked around all the time with a headache, and I covered my mouth with something so I wouldn’t absorb all of the [pesticide] dust coming out of the cherries. And I mentioned it to the boss . . . from what I have seen. . . . If you get worse, the boss sends you back to Mexico, and the following year he won’t request you [as an employee]. And just like that he has gotten rid of his problems. That’s the issue; I’ve seen bosses discard their best workers simply because they became ill, fell, broke a hand, or fractured part of their body.”
—Felipe, from an interview on 29 September 2013

Felipe (a pseudonym), a 28-year-old man from southern Mexico, is one of approximately 8600 migrant farmworkers living throughout BC. He and other migrant farmworkers are engaged in one of the province’s most dangerous, least regulated, and lowest paid occupations. The majority are men and most are from Mexico or Jamaica, but an increasing number come from other countries. Even though they make tremendous cultural, social, and economic contributions to Canadian society, migrant farmworkers often experience disproportionately adverse health outcomes because they are excluded from many of the rights and protections that citizens and permanent residents enjoy.

Migrant farmworkers are legally entitled to health care—they must be covered either by MSP or private insurance. But Felipe’s story shows how a fear of job termination and deportation generates unique barriers to health for migrant farmworkers. Furthermore, workers are often dependent on employers for transportation from remote rural areas and help to navigate the Canadian medical system.

BC physicians can play a critical role in reducing the gaps in health care for migrant members of our communities, both through everyday clinical practice and advocacy.

Resources and considerations for physicians
If language barriers are a concern, physicians can draw on the Provincial Language Service (PLS), which provides interpreting and translation services over the phone or in person.

To address cultural barriers and migrants’ long working hours, the Umbrella Mobile Clinic provides periodic pop-up farmworker mobile clinics throughout the Fraser Valley. These are staffed by a physician or nurse practitioner as well as multilingual cross-cultural health brokers.

If a physician is clarifying medical or billing issues with private insurance providers, sending-country representatives, English-speaking coworkers, or employers, they should be sensitive to the potential implications of putting patients’ confidentiality at risk. Medical repatriation, where a migrant worker is sent to their country of origin after sustaining an illness or injury (often against their will), is a documented risk for farmworkers. Once repatriated, access to health care and compensation granted to other ill or injured workers in Canada becomes much more complicated.

Read the full article

The Social Networks of Seniors

The Faculty of Arts and Science News recently profiled Professor Markus Schafer in their series on “Rising Stars.” The piece discusses Professor Schafer’s doctoral work that studied the social networks of seniors in a residence complex, and his ongoing research into social networks, health and aging more generally.

Read the article here.

Professor Schafer’s research is supported by the Province of Ontario’s Early Researcher Award and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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


P2P: Underpaid But Satisfied

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.

Narisada, Atsushi and Scott Schieman. 2016. “Underpaid But Satisfied: The Protective Functions of Security.” Work and Occupations. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0730888415625332

Atsushi came Atsushi.Narisadato the Research Practicum with an interest in work and justice. In an ideal world, workers would be paid appropriately for their inputs—but the reality is quite different. Researchers estimate that roughly half of American workers feel underpaid, and note that the perception of under-reward is an important element of chronic stress. Atsushi focused his time in the Research Practicum on answering the questions: What are the consequences of perceived under-reward for employee well-being; and what are the conditions that may neutralize its harmful effects? To address these questions, Atsushi analyzed data from Professor Scott Schieman’s Work, Stress, and Health study. The resulting paper has recently been published online ahead of print in the journal Work and Occupations.

The article reports on analysis of data from a national survey of American workers. Under Professor Schieman’s direction, Atsushi probed the data to understand whether various forms of security functioned to ameliorate the job dissatisfaction of workers who felt they were underpaid. The analysis found that job security, financial security and employment in the public sector neutralize the pain of perceived under-reward but that work autonomy, decision-latitude, and authority did not have the same effect. These findings provide a valuable contribution to the scholarly understandings of distributive justice and theories of equity.

The paper developed over the course of the practicum and benefited greatly from the feedback and suggestions provided by the practicum directors, Professors Adam Green, Candace Kruttschnitt, and Ronit Divonitzer, and the other students in the course. Atsushi submitted a draft of the paper for presentation at the ASA annual meeting and, after it was accepted, presented a practice talk for the ASA in front of faculty and graduate students in the department. The critical feedback advanced the paper further, while also providing the opportunity for him to practice how to handle critical questions in the Q&A.

Atsushi and Professor Schieman submitted the paper to Work and Occupations and received a request for major revisions. The reviewers’ comments were tough—requesting clarifications and reconsiderations of the theoretical framework and methodology. Atsushi says that the revision process pushed him to engage with diverse literature and theoretical ideas more deeply, articulate the theoretical integration more compellingly, and understand the assumptions behind statistical methods more thoroughly. The process required multiple iterations of re-thinking and re-writing, with painstaking attention to detail in both the manuscript and the response memo. It also required many meetings with Professor Schieman and further consultations with Professor Blair Wheaton and Professor Geoffrey Wodtke. The entire process was riddled with emotional highs-and-lows, but it was ultimately a very rewarding experience. After submitting the revisions and a few months of anxious anticipation, the paper received conditional acceptance and was later finally accepted for publication. Atsushi claims he will not forget the excitement he felt when he saw the final product in print.

When asked about what he learned from the process, Atsushi said that, more than anything, the experience of turning a paper into a publication taught him the value of persistence. During the revision process, there were multiple instances where Atsushi felt like he hit a wall. He overcame those obstacles by persistently engaging with ideas, making multiple revisions, and by consulting with Professor Schieman and other faculty. Persistence didn’t mean struggling in isolation; it also meant asking for help when appropriate and learning how to approach leading scholars in the field both in person and through email. As he begins his dissertation research, Atsushi intends to remember and apply the lessons he learned in persistence in addition to the important lessons he learned regarding how to effectively develop research questions, structure a paper, and respond to reviewers.

On the Benefits of Giving Advice

mschaferProfessor Markus Schafer and PhD student Laura Upeniek’s research highlights the benefits of giving advice for people in their 60s. This research,  funded by an Ontario Ministry  of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award, was recently highlighted on the University of Toronto Faculty of Arts and Science News Page

Older adults may benefit from giving advice: Unfortunately, opportunities to counsel grow scarce with age

Research by sociologists at the University of Toronto suggests that feeling useful is a key part of a life well-lived and this is especially so for seniors who are living longer than ever before.

Their study shows that individuals in their 60s who give advice to a broad range of people including family members, friends, and neighbours tend to see their lives as especially meaningful, compared to those with fewer advice-giving opportunities. The research, which compared adults in their 20s through 70s, appears in the March issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

“This association between giving advice and finding meaning in life is not evident in other age groups,” said Markus Schafer, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and lead author of the study.

Unfortunately, the later years  when people would most benefit from being a sage is also a time when they have fewer opportunities to dispense advice, and to less-diverse types of people.

“Just when giving advice seems to be most important, opportunities for doing so seem to wane”

“The findings suggest that the developmental demands of late midlife, particularly the desire to contribute to the welfare of others and the fear of feeling ‘stagnant’, are not well aligned with the social and demographic realities of this stage of many people’s lives,” he said. “Just when giving advice seems to be most important, opportunities for doing so seem to wane.”

The study, titled “The Age-Graded Nature of Advice: Distributional Patterns and Implications for Life Meaning,” relies on a representative sample of 2,583 U.S. adults.

Schafer and U of T PhD student Laura Upenieks, co-author of the study, found that 21 per cent of people in their 60s and 27 per cent of people 70 or older reported giving advice to no one in the previous year. By comparison, only about 10 per cent of people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s said they gave no advice in the past year.

“We tend to think that the ideal mentor or advice-giver is someone who has a lot of life experience,” Schafer said. “However, compared to their younger counterparts, older adults occupy fewer social roles, are less socially active, and interact with a more restricted range of people.

“So, while the average 65-year-old may well have more wisdom than the average 30-year-old, the latter typically has more opportunity for actually dispensing advice.”

It matters to matter

Put another way, the study suggests that it matters to matter. Some scholars have argued that mattering supports the idea that it is important to feel that one is meaningful, consequential and can have influence on other people in various ways, including by providing advice. It is this feeling of mattering that seems to be most under threat during late-middle age when many people retire and enter the “empty nest” phase of life, according to Schafer.

Such research is particularly relevant given demographics: in 2015, for the first time, more Canadians were 65 years of age and older than were younger than 15 years of age, and the trend is only set to increase…

Full Article

Health and Social Networks among Older Adults

mschaferSocial networks have a powerful impact on well-being — an impact that only increases with age. Changes in health status in old age, however, can limit older adults’ ability to maintain a broad and supportive pool of social resources.

Professor Markus Schafer’s new research program, recently funded by the Province of Ontario’s Early Research Award program, seeks to understand how various aspects of older adults’ social networks shape their health and how different facets of physical and mental health shape different properties of their social networks. Though global in scope, the project also gives special attention to how social networks can help older adults in Toronto retain a high quality of life.

Professor Schafer came to the University of Toronto in 2011 and has used the time since then to establish himself as an expert in social networks, health and the life course. The Early Researcher Award provides Schafer with funding to support his team of graduate students as he and they seek to analyze the complicated ways in which social and physical contexts interact with both health and social connectedness.

Schafer and his students are tackling the question with a two-pronged strategy. First, they are conducting analyses on data from a number of excellent North American surveys that span many years and countries. These data will show them how networks and health interact with contexts over time in a wide variety of contexts.

To understand the processes in more local, fine-grained detail, the team will also select 9-12 neighbourhoods in the city of Toronto where they will find seniors and conduct interviews with them. These interviews will probe deeper into the experiences and personal understandings of health, social networks and contextual factors than can be done through a study of large-scale survey data.

Ph.D. Candidate Jenna Valleriani writes on Medical Marijuana

Jenna Valleriani, PhD Candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Program in Addiction Studies, regularly contributes to Lift: Canabis News Magazine. Her research looks at social movements, entrepreneurship and the emergence of new industries, focusing on the transition to the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation in Canada. In this article, Jenna reviews the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington DC.

Canada is well represented at the semi-annual drug policy event.

Over 1,400 researchers, activists, students, patients, harm reductionists, drug users, organizations, policy makers and politicians gathered last weekend in Washington D.C for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

From November 18 – 21st, people from all over the world discussed, debated and engaged in topics from psychedelic research, to the prescription pill panic, to cannabis regulation, reflecting a diverse movement with various interests. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the DPA, framed wider drug policy reform as a movement about freedom and liberty – and positioned cannabis regulation as central to that movement.

Each breakout session had various panels focused on cannabis and regulation around the world, covering topics such as challenges to marijuana legalization, diversity and equity in the marijuana industry, drug prevention in the age of marijuana legalization, and cannabis regulation from around the world.

With panelists such as Florencia Lemos, co-founder of the CLUC Cannabis Club in Uruguay, Vicki Hansen, a PhD Candidate from the University of the West Indies, and Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst from Transform Drug Policy in the UK – just to name a few – there were certainly a variety of voices at the table. Read the rest of the article