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Research concentrations

We have a strong commitment to critical scholarship that is engaged with real-world issues of power and inequality. Many of our faculty work with government and non-government agencies and community groups, providing social analysis and expertise.

While we work on a broad range of topics in many geographical areas, our department has three concentrations of research expertise.

Critical Health Studies

This area includes research on health, illness, health care, food and nutrition, and the body. Faculty and students working in this area are interested in how health is socially and culturally constructed and how it is contested, both within dominant biomedical and public health paradigms and outside them. The department’s focus on power, authority, conflict and change, our methodological approaches, and our engagement with contemporary social theory and social activism make our approach to health studies distinct from other disciplines. Our faculty work in such diverse areas as drug use and addictions, aging and the lifecourse, gender and health, the political economy of health, pain, genetically modified foods, mothering/reproductive health, the perspectives of patients and lay health activists, and models of science and expertise in health care systems.

Economy, work, and development

This area covers the sociology and anthropology of work and industrialization; debates over modernization, development, modernity and postmodernity; economic and labour process restructuring; and comparative economic and social systems. Topics explored in classes include the gendering of work; international labour migration; economic transformation in post-socialist states; capitalism and class in global perspective; occupations and professions; and continuity and change in rural societies. Research foci in recent years have covered occupational and labour market segregation and pay equity; gender and livelihood in Southeast Asia; comparative studies of fisheries in Canada, Scandinavia, the Philippines and the Caribbean; culture, class and community in Atlantic Canada; tourism and development; and the interrelationships among work, family and higher education.

Social justice and inequality

This area encompasses the study of power relations, inequality, resistance and demands for social justice. Among the subjects addressed are gender, minority and class inequality; human rights; local and transnational social movements; citizenship, multiculturalism, and religion; border and security studies; cross-cultural conflict and dispute settlement; and the sociology of law, deviance, and criminal justice. Faculty have interests and expertise in these subjects, as well as in related issues such a international development, indigenous peoples’ rights, socioeconomic change, comparative and alternative models of justice, justice policy and reform, policing, and health inequalities. The department houses the Atlantic Institute of Criminology, which provides information access and some research assistance to faculty and students working on appropriate issues.