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Karen Foster

Assistant Professor; Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Rural Futures for Atlantic Canada


Related information

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Email: karen.foster@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-6751
Mailing Address: 
Room 3115, McCain Building, 6135 University Avenue
PO Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • 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

Research interests

Dr. Foster is a sociologist whose research and writing spans the sociology of work, political economy, and historical sociology. She has drawn on both qualitative and quantitative methods to study economic issues from a sociological perspective: from the history of productivity as a statistic and a concept, to generational divisions at work, to young peoples’ experiences on social assistance. In addition to her scholarly work, she also writes about these topics for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and The Tyee. Her forthcoming 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.

Her CRC research focuses on the sustainability of rural life in Atlantic Canada, with a particular emphasis on how government policy and everyday life intersect. Currently, she is co-investigator with the Annapolis County-based Centre for Local Prosperity on a project entitled "Rethinking Community Development: The Economic Value of Import Replacement in Atlantic Canada."

Selected publications