Sylvia Fuller


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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Care and the corporation: how organizational contexts shape the forms and consequences of fathers' caregiving (2022)

Fathers have increased their involvement in child care in recent years, in the context of dual-earner households and intensive parenting pressures. Yet, their involvement remains low relative to mothers. One reason for this continued gendered division of care is the context of paid work. Borrowing from Acker’s (1990) theoretical framework, workplaces can be viewed as gendered, characterized by ideal worker logic and the presumption of uninterrupted worker availability and commitment. While we know much about how mothers experience the competing pressures of work and care, we know less about the experiences of fathers and how they manage their care in gendered organizations.To that end, I examined fathers’ experiences in two contrasting workplaces, Manuco and Comco, representing opposite ends of ‘family-friendliness’. Manuco is a blue-collar, manufacturing environment, while Comco is a family-friendly, white-collar firm. I adopted a comparative case study approach, conducting over seventy worker interviews across these two organizations and examining relevant workplace documents to understand how fathers manage their care at work.At both these organizations, and despite their stark differences, fathers’ care was limited to the margins in and around work time. Yet the mechanisms for this differed in important ways. Manuco relied on a culture of normative work time, informed by gender and class, that framed understandings of and possibilities for fathers’ care. Normative work time underpinned Manuco’s rigid rules around time, managerial responses to workers’ flexibility requests, men’s own limited conception of their care needs, and the culture around caregiving on the factory floor. Comco, on the other hand, was characterized by a culture of care, providing workers with family-friendly policies and practices that, in theory, made space for workers’ non-work lives. Yet, Comco’s high commitment context and managers’ and coworkers’ subtly gendered reactions to fathers’ care, meant that care was still sidelined. Despite their contrasts, these organizations both exemplify the gendered dismissal of fathers’ care, in particular, and the broader devaluing of care characteristic of gendered organizations.

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Care conundrum: experiences of younger adult eldercare providers (2022)

Caring is complex—often framed in love, sometimes mired with obligation, guilt, stress and anxiety. Informal care is rarely a simple addition to one’s life but rather it represents a re-thinking of relationships, a re-evaluation of priorities and career direction, and an emotional journey as carers navigate issues of autonomy and independence when supporting their parents and older family members. In this integrated-article dissertation, I combine qualitative and quantitative methods to consider the broader experience of younger adult informal eldercare providers. In Chapter 2, I examine how informal eldercare providers conceptualize care and caregiving. Findings suggest that participants define care in two key ways: as assistance or activities driven by necessity, or as physical care. In Chapter 3, I examine the work/family conflict that arises for younger adult eldercare providers, and the associated reductions in work hours or limits to career advancement by turning down or choosing not to apply for promotions. My findings demonstrate that these individuals are indeed making career choices in relation to care, and that women in particular are shaping their career trajectories around their eldercare responsibilities—with the potential for long term career effects. In Chapter 4, I use theories of mental labour to analyze the experiences of informal eldercare providers in the COVID-19 pandemic. My findings highlight the salience of mental labour as an important form of eldercare, as exemplified by worries about transmission risk, the consequences of isolation, and navigating access to needed medical services during periods of lockdown or reduced interaction. My dissertation offers a glimpse into the insights and experiences of younger adult eldercare providers. I reflect the stories, experiences, and implications of informal care, conscientiously examining the relational nature of care provision. In doing so, my aim is to encourage scholars to think differently about eldercare—to expand our conception of care beyond task or time-based approaches, to consider the path-based nature of care penalties, and to acknowledge new care strategies and behaviours emerging throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Attitudes towards inequality in cross-national perspective: tracing the endurance of social class in modern societies (2020)

This dissertation employs quantitative techniques including random and fixed effects linear regression to analyze a dataset comprised of 27 over 17 years to explore the extent to which people are critical of inequalities in modern societies. It investigates whether the positions people occupy in the social forces of production influence the extent to which they view inequality critically. This research also examines the interplay between placement within the class structure, political orientations and national-level factors in determining critical inequality views. The findings reveal that peoples’ disapproval towards inequality is strongly reflective of their class position. Yet, this also depends on their political persuasions and changes at different levels of income inequality. This is because the self-interests associated with class largely determines the views of those who are right-leaning, with working class conservatives significantly more likely to condemn inequality compared to their counterparts in upper class positions. The research also shows that the working classes are concerned with inequality in both unequal and more equal societies. As inequality increases, however, the views that the various classes have towards inequality begin to converge. Indeed, the results reveal that in contexts where inequality is high, upper class inequality views are more critical than the working class. This has possible policy implications, particularly as income inequality continues to grow.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

The Influence of Workplace Context on Fathers' Use of Parental Leave in Canada (2012)

Much research has examined fathers’ use of parental leave in the international context, focusing on the role of state policies and/or the influence of the family in shaping fathers’ leave decisions. Missing from these analyses is an examination of how the workplace context might shape fathers’ leave use. The current thesis attempts to fill this gap by investigating variation in fathers’ leave use and leave length in Canada as these relate to cultural and structural features of the workplace context. Using data from the nationally representative Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, I run logistic regression and negative binomial regression to test the effects of occupational culture and structural features such as workplace sector and size on fathers’ use and length of leave, respectively. Results indicate a positive and significant effect for management and science-related occupations on leave use but this effect disappears upon the introduction of individual-level control variables. Other work-related predictors include large workplaces and having a permanent job, both of which positively and significantly predict leave use. Length of leave was not found to be related to workplace context. These findings point to the importance of structural features of the workplace in shaping fathers’ use of leave, but not necessarily the length of their leave.

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