FULL Sociology Seminar Series 2016/2017

Tues Sept 6, 2:00-3:30 (ANSO 207)
Aldon D. Morris
(Northwestern) Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African American Studies

This talk is part of the Department of Sociology’s Academic Launch 2016.

W. E. B. Du Bois at the Center: From Science, Civil Rights Movement, to Black Lives Matter, 2016

W. E. B. Du Bois was a pioneering sociologist who played a pivotal role in the founding of scientific sociology in America. Yet, Du Bois’ major contributions have been erased from the collective memory of the discipline of sociology. My lecture, which is based on my new book, The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern sociology, reflects on the causes of the erasure and why it is important for contemporary scholars to reclaim and incorporate Du Bois’ work into the intellectual foundations of sociology. Du Bois was both scholar and activists. My lecture will explore the activist dimensions of Du Bois work and make the case that scholarship and activism can enrich the sociological imagination


Tues Oct 4, 11:00-12:30 (ANSO 134)
Daniel Silver (Toronto)  Associate Professor

Scenescapes: How Qualities of Place Shape Social Life

In their new book, Scenescapes, Daniel Aaron Silver and Terry Nichols Clark examine the patterns and consequences of the amenities that define our streets and strips. They articulate the core dimensions of the theatricality, authenticity, and legitimacy of local scenes—cafes, churches, restaurants, parks, galleries, bowling alleys, and more. Scenescapes not only reimagines cities in cultural terms, it details how scenes shape economic development, residential patterns, and political attitudes and actions. In vivid detail and with wide-angle analyses—encompassing an analysis of 40,000 ZIP codes—Silver and Clark give readers tools for thinking about place; tools that can teach us where to live, work, or relax, and how to organize our communities.

Tues Jan 10, 2017, 11:00-12:30 (ANSO 134)
Christopher Uggen
(Minnesota) Distinguished McKnight Professor of Sociology and Law, and Fellow of the American Society of Criminology

Criminal Records, Spillovers, and the Growing Stickiness of Public Labels

Contemporary criminology offers compelling evidence that the distinction between “criminal” and “non-criminal” is largely a matter of time. Yet crime discourse and policy remain rooted in the notion of criminality as an immutable individual characteristic. This talk contrasts the fluidity in criminal behavior with the growing stickiness of public labels, drawing from an experimental study of low-level criminal records, demographic analysis of the population bearing such records, and their spillover effects on health care and other institutions. After summarizing some key U.S. policy interventions on stigmatization and crime, I conclude by introducing a new study of restorative alternatives in a radically different legal and social context.

Tues Feb 7, 11:00-12:30 (ANSO 134)
Sarah Thébaud (California, Santa Barbara) Assistant Professor

Opting into Work-Family Policies: Comparing the Effects of Material and Cultural Concerns

Existing scholarship suggests that changes in workplaces, such as the implementation of supportive work-family policies, may lead to greater gender equality at work and at home. In practice, however, the utilization of work-family policies is highly variable across organizations and is highly gendered, with women being more likely to use such policies. In this talk, I will present findings from an original, nationally representative survey experiment that evaluates the underlying mechanisms driving this variation in work-family policy use. Specifically, the study aims to: 1) disentangle the effects of the material aspects of a policy (e.g., the wage replacement rate for family leave) from the cultural aspects of a policy (e.g., the informal organizational norms regarding policy use) in shaping workers’ intentions to use parental leave and flexible work policies, and 2) identify the extent to which individuals’ concerns about violating “ideal worker” and gender norms mediate the effects of the material and cultural aspects of these policies. We also evaluate the extent to which these effects differ for professional and non-professional workers. Findings contribute new insights to scholarship on gender inequality, organizational behavior, and social policy.

The Martha Foschi Award for Excellence in Research and Teaching will be presented at this talk.

Tues Mar 7, 11:00-12:30 (ANSO 134)
Amelie Quesnel-Vallee
(McGill) Canada Research Chair in Policies and Health Inequalities, and, President, RC15 Sociology of Health, International Sociological Association

Inequalities in Aging in Canada: Evidence from longitudinal survey and linked administrative data

In 2015, for the first time in history, Canadians aged 65 and over outnumbered those 14 years and under. Moreover, as baby-boomers began turning 65 in 2011, population aging will accelerate further such that by 2024, 1 in 5 Canadians will be 65 years or over. A looming issue within this population is that of social inequalities. Indeed, while once enviably low by international standards, poverty among older Canadians has been increasing over the past decade, particularly steeply so among single women and immigrants.

To truly tackle the root of these inequalities in aging, they must be seen as the outcome of a life course accumulation of (dis)advantage, moderated by the social policy context in which they occur. In this presentation, I will draw from the historical income administrative data linked to the Longitudinal International Survey of Adults survey to describe Canadians’ employment and income life course trajectories, 2) analyse their contribution to inequalities in aging and 3) discuss implications for the social policy contexts that shaped these trajectories.


Tues March 14, 3:00-4:30 (ANSO 134)

Janet Vertesi (Princeton) Professor

The Social Life of Spacecraft: Social Organization and Technoscientific Work on NASA’s Robotic Spacecraft Teams

How does social organization affect the conduct and practice of science? To explore this question, Vertesi presents empirical data from a comparative ethnographic study of work on two NASA robotic spacecraft mission teams. While the robots appear to be singular entities operating autonomously in the frontiers of space, decisions about what the robots should do and how they accomplish their science are made on an iterative basis by a large, distributed team of scientists and engineers on Earth. As spacecraft team members negotiate among themselves for robotic time and resources, their sociotechnical organization is paramount to understanding how decisions are made, which scientific data are acquired, and how the team relates to their robot. Describing the contrasting organizational practices, interaction rituals, and forms of talk by means of which decisions are made and consensus is achieved on both missions, Vertesi explores how sociotechnical organization presents implications for team solidarity, data sharing, and scientific results.


This talk is a Kaspar Naegele Memorial Lecture



Tues April 4, 11:00-12:30 (ANSO 134)
Howard Ramos
(Dalhousie) Professor

Racialization & Representation in Canadian Universities

Despite years of Employment Equity policies and an increasingly racially diverse population, universities across Canada do not reflect the diversity of the broader population. Using Census data the extent of the gap of representation of racialized faculty is examined over time. Representation is probed further with an original survey of eight Canadian universities looking at how racialized faculty “play” the academic game through an analysis of performance and the perceptions of “hard” versus “soft” metrics of academia. Overall, analysis shows that racialized faculty remain underrepresented in Canadian universities, they do play the game, but they perceive it differently than their non-racialized counterparts.