Mervyn Horgan

Associate Professor
Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Phone number: 
519 824 4120 x56373
MCKN 637

Cultural Sociology; Classical & Contemporary Social Theory; Urban Sociology; Social Solidarity; Strangership; Migrant Labour; Sociabilities and Incivilities; Mental Health; History of the Social Sciences; Sociology of Community; Sociology of Everyday Life

Accepting graduate students for September 2019: 
Yes, both MA and PhD

I am a social theorist, urbanist and cultural sociologist. My research gathers an eclectic set of substantive interests grounded in a normative commitment to solidarity. I’m especially interested in social sites and scenes where strangers mingle, where solidarity is passively produced, tenuously assumed, or threatened with dissolution.  I am currently completing work on the RIEL (Researching Incivilities in Everyday Life) project funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant. My new research project, the Sociable Cites Project (funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant, with Co-Investigator Prof. Liinamaa), develops the concept of ‘soft solidarity’ to understand how solidarity manifests (or not) through ordinary encounters between strangers in complex multicultural societies across a range of mundane public settings like park benches, playgrounds, ice rinks, dog parks, street fairs, and public transit. In addition to this major project I also maintain active solo and collaborative research projects on social science history, theories of recognition and copresence, realist representation, stigmatization (especially with regard to housing), and the civil sphere in Canada.

I am a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University and was a Visiting Fellow there in 2018-2019. Currently I am the Communications Officer for the Canadian Sociology Association, and I’m also active in the Social Theory Research Cluster where I co-founded the Symposium for Early Career Theorists (SECT). I serve on the Board of the Sociological Theory Research Committee of the International Sociological Association, and am also a co-founder and active member of the Canadian Network for Critical Sociology (see Horgan 2017a). At the University of Guelph, in addition to being an active member of the Graduate Faculty in Sociology, I am a core faculty member of the PhD Program in Social Practice and Transformational Change, and Affiliated Faculty with the Graduate Programs in Critical Studies in Improvisation. Prior to joining the University of Guelph I was Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Sociology at Acadia University. My PhD (2010) is from York University (Toronto), while my MA and BA are from University College Cork, Ireland.

If you’re a graduate student (or are considering applying to graduate school) and you’re interested in cultural sociology, social theory, solidarity, ethnography, documentary film, housing, destigmatization, or urban sociology, please feel free to drop me a line. Students I work with do research in many different subfields that are not always directly connected to my current research, but that do tend to share an interest in qualitative methods, meaning-centred analysis, and an appreciation for the practical value of social theory.

If you’d like copies of any of my publications and can’t access them online, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email (or snail mail!) and I’m happy to send them along.

Horgan, Mervyn. 2020, in press. “Housing Stigmatization: A General Theory.” Social Inclusion 8(1).

Horgan, Mervyn. accepted, forthcoming. “Urban Interaction Ritual: Strangership, Civil Inattention and Everyday Incivilities in Public Space.” Pragmatics.

Horgan, Mervyn. 2019. “Everyday Incivility and the Urban Interaction Order: Theorizing Moral Affordances in Ritualized Interaction.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict 7(1):32–55.

Rotz, Sarah, Evan Gravely, Ian Mosby, Emily Duncan, Elizabeth Finnis, Mervyn Horgan, Joseph LeBlanc, Ralph Martin, Hannah Tait Neufeld, Andrew Nixon, Laxmi Pant, Vivian Shalla, and Evan Fraser. 2019. “Automated Pastures and the Digital Divide: How Agricultural Technologies Are Shaping Labour and Rural Communities.” Journal of Rural Studies 68:112–22.

Horgan, Mervyn. 2018. "Territorial Stigmatization and Territorial Destigmatization: A Cultural Sociology of Symbolic Strategy in Parkdale's (Toronto) Gentrification" International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 42(3): 500-516.

Horgan, Mervyn & Liinamaa, Saara. 2017a. “The Social Quarantining of Migrant Labour: Everyday Effects of Temporary Foreign Worker Regulation in Canada” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43(5): 713-730.

Horgan, Mervyn. 2017a. "Interaction, Indifference, Injustice: Elements of a Normative Theory of Urban Solidarity" in Kurasawa, F. Interrogating the Social: Critical Sociology for the 21st Century. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Horgan, Mervyn. 2017b. “Mundane Mutualities: Solidarity & Strangership in Everyday Urban Life” in Oosterlynck, S., M. Loopmans & N. Schuermans (eds.) Place, Diversity, Solidarity. London & New York: Routledge.

Horgan, Mervyn, and Saara Liinamaa. 2017b. "First but Not a Founder: Annie Marion MacLean and the History and Institutionalization of Canadian Sociology" in P Albanese, L Tepperman, & E Alexander (eds). Reading Sociology. Toronto: Oxford University Press. pp. 121-126.

PhD Supervision

Aidan Lockhart (ongoing), Badges and Bars: The Spectre of the Prison in Police Everyday Lifeworlds
Christopher Worden (ongoing), Arts Worker Experiences of Diversity and Representation in Publicly-Funded Arts Organizations
Xu Meng (ongoing), Symbolic Consumption and Public Space
Benjamin Reeve (ongoing), Poverty and Marginalization in Everyday Life
Daniel Kudla (2019, co-advisor with Patrick Parnaby) Business Improvement Areas and the Justification of Urban Revitalization: Using the Pragmatic Sociology of Critique to Understand Neoliberal Urban Governance

PhD Advisory Committee Membership

Annie Simpson (ongoing), Street-Involved Youth in Guelph (ongoing)
Timothy Wykes (ongoing), Can Golden Horseshoes Rust?: Exploring Working-Class Experiences of Crime and Social Mixing in Gentrifying Cities (ongoing)
Valerie Grand-Maison (ongoing) Violence & women with disabilities
Meaghan Wrathall (ongoing) Drugs and rural culture
Guila Benchimol (2019), Victims are Doing it for Themselves: Examining the Move from Victim to Advocate
Amir Mostaghim (2018), Everybody Must Get Stoned? The Role of Gender and Ethnicity in Mediating the Differentiated Normalization of Marijuana Use

MA Supervision

Devan Hunter (ongoing), Doing Veganism in the Everyday
Edith Wilson (2018), ‘Washrooms for Customers Only’: The Morality and Ethics of Sh*tting in the City
Yvonne Daoleuxay (2017), An Exploratory Analysis of the Management Consulting Profession in Canada
Danielle McNally (2016), A Relative Silence: Exploring Abject Embodiment and Conditions of Domination
Justin Doran (2015), A Retrospective Analysis of the Career Trajectories of Two Film Directors
Aidan Lockhart (2015), Exploring the Triad: An Analysis of the Relations Between Cultural Sensibilities, Pop-Culture, and the Juridico-Carceral Apparatus

MA Advisory Committee Membership

Julia Taucer (2016, Masters in Landscape Architecture), Design for Citizen-Generated Urban Interventions: Understanding the Relationship Between Formal and Informal Urban Design in Toronto
Karen Cook (2016) An examination of front-of-pack labels as a method of health promotion
Nicole Andrejek (2014) They Expect You’ll Be Expecting: An Exploration of Dominant Discourses and Women’s Reproductive Identities