Neil Guppy

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.


Research Classification

Social Contexts

Research Interests

social inequality
sociology of education
gender relations

Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Research Methodology

quantitative methods, official statistics, survey research

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Housework in Canada: uneven convergence of the gender gap in domestic tasks, 1986-2010 (2017)

Housework is one of the last bastions of gender inequality. The persistence of the cultural association of housework with “women's work” and its significance in reflecting societal power differentials between women and men makes research on the division of household labour important. My work explores the division of domestic work in Canada, paying special attention to changes over time and to the economic and cultural explanations of women’s and men’s differential participation in routine and non-routine domestic tasks. First, I decompose the gender gap in time allotted to housework tasks using five time use cycles of the Canadian General Social Survey. Then, using OLS regression with the Heckman correction, I investigate whether and to what extent economic or cultural factors play a role in the division of individual domestic tasks. The gender gap analysis shows that tasks, like shopping, which is culturally understood as a more gender-neutral activity, are best explained by the time availability framework, whereas the economic factors, in general, can explain a sizeable share of the participation in tasks traditionally associated with women such as household cleaning. For instance, the latter account for around 39% of the gender gap in time spent on cleaning among all married and cohabiting Canadians. However, the economic and gender-centred factors are least likely to explain the gender gap in tasks where there is a clear cultural change in attitudes and participation. For example, they can explain only 31% of the gender gap in cooking. Additionally, the findings suggest that pressures for breadwinning Canadian women to compensate for gender deviance in paid work are more severe than those faced by men. Thus breadwinning women continue to reproduce traditional gender patterns in cooking, cleaning, and shopping tasks. On the other hand, Canadian men perform a new behavioural pattern in cooking tasks: breadwinning men break traditional gender patterns and spend more time on cooking than can be predicted by economic exchange theory. In total these patterns reveal the processes through which cultural changes around a domestic task propel the changes toward gender equality in the division of housework.

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Cultivated Participation: The political pathways and cultural models of young Canadians (2016)

Traditional forms of political engagement, such as voting, have been on the decline in many western nations over the last number of decades, and researchers point to younger generations as driving these changes. This dissertation seeks to deepen our understanding of the relationship young Canadians have to political participation and engage with some of the questions raised by these trends. I do so through capturing the cultural models young people use to relate to political participation, and by identifying the common trajectories and experiences of people who do and do not engage with politics. I give particular attention to the role of higher education in these trajectories, as education has long been identified as strongly related to political participation. Yet the steady rise of education attainment along with stagnating or declining participation rates, has prompted closer examination of this relationship. Cultural models that young people use to think about politics and participation, and particularly the potential role of individualist orientations that some researchers have identified as driving changing relationships to participation, are also explored in this research. This study draws from 63 semi-structured interviews with young Canadians who went to high school in low, mid, and high SES areas of Vancouver. I suggest that political engagement is primarily fostered through social contexts where such engagement is produced as natural and desirable. The family appears to play the most important role in creating such contexts, but social networks, as well as schools and workplaces, also play a role in people’s trajectories of participation. I argue that people in higher SES backgrounds are more likely to experience overlapping contexts that promote political participation, and that the impacts of higher education are mediated by previous political experiences. Finally, by outlining the common cultural models of participation, I point to the role of individualist models in producing contingent and specialized relationships to participation. I argue that one prominent model participants use to think about participation, a ‘model of interest,’ tends to help further produce politics as a specialization for those with the existing dispositions and experiences with politics.

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In Canada we trust? Understanding ethno-racial variations in social and political trust (2013)

This thesis considers ethno-racial differences in social and political trust, which leading scholars see as the two key dimensions of social cohesion in Canada. Although not directly addressing problems of prejudice and intolerance, the analysis relates to this same research tradition. I compare trust among eight ethno-racial groupings: British, French, “Canadians,” other Europeans, Aboriginal Peoples, visible minorities, mixed-origins respondents, and all others. Building from the concepts of “social distance” and “social boundaries,” I test three sets of factors for explaining ethno-racial differences in trust: (1) three ethno-cultural “markers” – religion, language, and immigration status; (2) two socioeconomic influences –education and income; and (3) two social engagement indicators – voluntary association activity and ethnic diversity of friendships. Models also include controls for region, age, and gender. Based on the 2008 General Social Survey Public Use Microdata file, findings indicate that a perspective employing concepts of social distance and social boundaries helps in understanding many, though not all, of the differences in trust across ethno-racial communities. The results show that, compared to more established groups like the British, the most culturally distinctive minorities – visible minorities, French, and Aboriginal Peoples – express less social trust. This is consistent with the interpretation that groups subjected to more social distance/social boundaries experiences are less likely to develop social trust. Nevertheless, these same groups, except for Aboriginal Peoples, exhibit relatively high political trust. The latter finding suggests that some minorities, when treated or perceived by others as different or distant from the “mainstream,” may see government agencies as defending their minority rights and interests against discrimination. Aboriginal Peoples are an exception in being the only minority grouping to express lower levels of both social and political trust. This underscores their unique position in Canada. Despite being the country’s original inhabitants, they have long endured processes of discrimination, exclusion, and racism that understandably contribute to lower trust in other people. At the same time, historical and present-day governments have ignored, exacerbated, or created many of these injustices, giving Aboriginal Peoples far less reason than other groups to trust Canadian political institutions.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
From Level to Field: Factors Influencing Student Choice of Undergraduate Field of Study (2015)

As universities face unprecedented numbers of applicants, competition for access to the more prestigious fields of higher education has become increasingly important. This study focuses on “what one studies” rather than “where one studies” based on how a student’s family background (as measured both by socioeconomic status and ethnicity) and gender influence their choice of undergraduate field of study. This paper addresses two main theoretical traditions: the “liberated” theory and Effectively Maintained Inequality (EMI). Whereas the latter suggests that social background may actually become more important for later transitions than for earlier ones, the “liberated” theory emphasizes that as children age, they become more independent of parents and therefore social background effects are lower for later transitions and less likely to impact student’s choice of field. The data for this study are drawn from Statistics Canada’s National Graduate Survey (NGS) of 2007 (class of 2005) and 2013 (class of 2009-2010). I conduct logistic and OLS regressions in order to assess the influence of a variety of independent variables, such as socioeconomic status, on the dependent variable “Field of study”, measured using 3 types of dichotomous codings: cultural fields, professional fields, and hard sciences, as well as the categorical coding of field by average income. Findings are not in keeping with the EMI theory, but rather lean towards a more “liberated” theory of choice of undergraduate field of study. Indeed, instead of maintaining the intergenerational transmission of status, as EMI predicts, field of study may well weaken the disadvantageous effect of family background, thereby providing a means for upward social mobility for lower SES students.

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The cultural transmission of morals: A case study of Western visitors to Cambodia's genocide museums (2015)

The “new” sociology of morality has issued a call for research. This revival movement has focused on combining findings in cultural sociology with new findings in cognitive science to identify morality as a “cultural schema” or habitus-like framework which shapes individual action. While invaluable, this research addresses only half of the equation. In line with previous theoretical work in cultural sociology, this paper endeavours to examine both the production and consumption processes through which morality is transmitted. The paper relies on data from an empirical study of visitor experiences to two genocide museums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Material from both museums was analyzed to find two parallel narratives of genocide running through the museums : an emphasis on the universal nature of the genocide to appeal to international visitors, and an account of the particularities of the genocide to serve domestic political goals. To trace the reception of the museum claims, 45 in-depth interviews with Western visitors were analyzed. I found four “types” of experiences at the museums based on different ways visitors incorporated new information about the genocide into their existing schemas : firm universalism, push-over universalism, adamant relativism and new converts to relativism. While the majority of visitors had stable experiences, reinforcing pre-existing “schemas” (moral frameworks) of universalism or relativism, some visitors did have transformative experiences, where information about the Cambodian genocide overhauled existing schemas of genocide. Beyond the sociology of morality, these findings hold significant implication for globalization studies. What political implications do stable and transformative moral experiences at genocide museums have for genocide?

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Why wait till marriage? Sexual decision making among Euro-Canadian and Chinese Canadian young adults (2013)

Premarital sexual behaviours are more common among Euro Canadian young adults than Chinese young adults. While researchers acknowledge the significant role of culture in explaining the sexual differences between ethnic groups, few have examined how culture shapes the sexual behaviours of Chinese and Euro Canadian young adults. Based on the symbolic interaction framework, this study examines whether Euro-Canadian and Chinese young adults are socialized to engage in sexual behaviour for different reasons. In particular, the reasons of interest are positive affection, physical pleasure, peer pressure and partner pressure. Religion and the virtue of filial piety are hypothesized to discourage premarital sex. This study also looks at the effects of acculturation on the levels of sexual involvement. This is an exploratory study, and quantitative data were collected from university students residing in Greater Vancouver via an online survey. In contrast with previous findings, ethnicity did not predict the different levels of premarital sexual involvement observed in the university respondents. Rather, this study revealed that the respondents’ levels of sexual involvement were related to the reasons why they engage, or not engage, in sex. A limitation of the study was the small sample size and its potentially non-representative nature. One of the strengths of the present study is the use of a theoretical framework as the basis of the research.

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