Faculty Research

Students walking on campus at UTSC

Teaching, Learning and Practicing Qualitative Research in China

Principal Investigator: Ping Chun-Hsiung

Funding Source: Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange

Beginning in 1958, Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) instituted a massive campaign to rapidly modernize China through increased collectivization, grain production, and industrial output. Called "The Great Leap Forward" (GLF), it stressed the superiority of Chinese Marxist society over the capitalist Western world and aimed to move China from socialism to communism by eliminating the market/capitalist economy and undermining local feudal structures. To ensure that this massive program of change was successful, Mao launched a nationwide 'investigative research' campaign of 'mass sociology' to monitor the GLF's progress (or the lack thereof). But the data collection and analysis methods of the investigative research were heavily influenced by, and designed to support, the CCP's state-building agenda. This research will study the production of 'empirical' knowledge during the GLF and its impact on the policy errors that caused lasting damage to the reputation of sociology and qualitative research (QR) in China.

Negotiating the Boundaries of Rights and Membership: Precarious Immigration and the Toronto District School Board

Principal Investigator: Patricia Landolt

Funding Source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

This project studies the ways that public schools in Toronto produce meanings of membership and practice inclusion and exclusion in the context of encounters with precarious status migrants. In 2007, the Toronto District School Board adopted a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with regard to the immigration status of their students. This decision put the spotlight on debates concerning the right to access public education regardless of legal status. This decision re-drew and extended the boundary, at least nominally, of membership in the "public" domain of public schooling and redefined rights and meanings of membership for people with precarious or less than full status. This project follows the ways in which this 2007 decision affects every day practice and interactions between teachers, administrators and families with precarious immigration status.

Access to Higher Education: Application and Admission to Top-Tier American Universities

Principal Investigator: Ann Mullen

Funding Source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

This study takes up the topic of university choice among a large, nationally-representative group of U.S. high school students. Specifically, this study answers the following empirical questions: among academically qualified students, how do gender, race, ethnicity, immigration status and socio-economic status (SES) correlate with the likelihood of applying and being accepted to a top-tier institution? Second, what factors help explain the differing application behaviour of qualified students? The rationale for this study comes from a growing awareness that while higher education has expanded dramatically worldwide over the past few decades, access to higher education continues to vary by social background, race, ethnicity and gender. Further, while students' previous academic achievement explains some of this variation, even when academic ability is held constant, more advantaged youth are both more likely to enter higher education and more likely to enter top-tier institutions. Because patterns of stratification in higher education may be explained in part by qualified students' educational choices, deepening our understanding of the influences on those choices bears import for developing appropriate social policies.

Kin Influences on Qatari Women's Transitions into the Labor Force: A Panel Study

Principal Investigator: Rania Salem Funding source: Qatar National Research Fund

This project investigates the pathways by which gendered attitudes and roles among parents and other kin influence young Qatari women's entry into the labor market. It examines young women's educational choices and their empowerment as factors that mediate the effect of kin-related variables on their labour force participation. This study leverages a two-wave panel survey to establish an appropriate temporal ordering of predictors and outcomes. It is based on interviews with triads of mothers, fathers, and unmarried daughters (aged 18-24 years) and follow-up interviews with daughters 12 months later. Parallel qualitative interviews clarify the mechanisms by which the specified factors affect young women's labour force participation. This study will inform policies that enable Qatari women to participate more fully in the economic realm, thus enhancing the population's human capital.

The Social and Political Consequences of Urban Scenes in Canada

Principal Investigator: Dan Silver

Funding Source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Local amenities generate distinctive "scenes" characterized by the types of value charged experiences they affirm or deny, such as self-expression, glamour, or local authenticity. This project measure the local scenes across the country and assesses their impact on the economic, social and political fabric of the nation. The project will evaluate differences between various localities, cities and regions across Canada and determine whether people in Canada choose their place of residence based on the available scenes, whether economic growth is fostered by the presence of a particular type of scene and whether particular political allegiances are aligned with particular scenes.