Karen Foster, Associate Dean Research
Associate Professor; Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Rural Futures for Atlantic Canada
PO Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2
- Economy, work and development
- Knowledge, science and expertise
- Political economy
- Research methods
- Rural communities
- Social policy
- Social statistics
- Atlantic Canada
- BA Hons, Dalhousie
- MA, University of Waterloo
- PhD, Carleton University
- PDF, York University; Banting PDF, Saint Mary’s University
Dr. Foster is a sociologist whose research and writing spans the sociology of work, rural sociology, political economy, and historical sociology. She has drawn on both qualitative and quantitative methods to study economic issues from a sociological perspective: the history of productivity as a statistic and a concept, generational divisions at work, young peoples’ experiences on social assistance, and youth outmigration from rural communities. Her 2017 book, Productivity and Prosperity: A Historical Sociology of Productivist Thought (University of Toronto Press), explores how the productivity concept and its statistical representation—and the powerful discourses to which it is attached—have featured in three Canadian sites: the Dominion Bureau of Statistics; the short-lived 1960s body, the National Productivity Council; and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The book received an Honourable Mention for the Canadian Sociological Association’s 2017 John Porter Tradition of Excellence Book Award.
Dr. Foster’s CRC current research, supported by her CFI-funded Rural Futures Research Centre, focuses on the sustainability of rural life in Atlantic Canada, with a particular emphasis on how government policy and everyday life intersect. Her interests in this area include import replacement, youth outmigration, occupational succession in rural family businesses, social perceptions of climate change, rural struggles to protect local public services, and housing desires among adults with Autism in rural and urban communities. More details about the research carried out at the Rural Futures Research Centre can be found at www.rfrc.ca . An ongoing side project is the experiences of contract instructors in post-secondary institutions across Canada, for example in a nationwide survey conducted in partnership with the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
- (2018) Habitat Maintenance and Local Economic Ethics in Rural Atlantic Canada Canadian Journal of Sociology 55(1):67-85
- (2018) Bridging Import Replacement Theory and Practice: A sociological examination of the potential for import replacement in Atlantic Canada. Annapolis Royal, NS: Centre for Local Prosperity.
- (2017) Finding a Place in the World: Understanding Youth Outmigration from Shrinking Rural Communities. SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Report.
- (2017) Productivity and Prosperity: A Historical Sociology of Productivist Thought. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
- (2013) “Disaffection Rising? Generations and the Personal Consequences of Work in Contemporary Canada.”Current Sociology 61(7):931-948.
- (2013) “Generation and Discourse in Working Life Stories.” British Journal of Sociology 64(2):195-215.
- with Dale Spencer (2013) “It’s Just a Social Thing: Drug use, friendship and borderwork among marginalized young people.” International Journal of Drug Policy.