Sociology of Community, Sociology of Friendship, Research Methods
Making friends through community organizations
After enduring the first two months of the first Covid-19 lockdown, I found myself on May 5th, 2020 preparing to give my first zoom lecture. My talk was part of a public lecture series about the consequences of the lockdown and social distancing for social life. You can still find that video online. Watching it now as I write this is a bit cringe-worthy for me. My hair is just starting to get unruly at that point and I make a few novice zoom mistakes right from the start. But it is also exciting because that moment sparked my new research direction around friendship formation.
One of the remarkable outcomes of the pandemic was the creative strategies we developed to maintain existing relationships during the pandemic. Some core friendships even strengthened, though some more distant friendships may have waned. But the question that grabbed me in those early days was how new, unexpected friendships would form. This question renewed my interest in the role of social infrastructure, community organizations in particular, in friendship formation. I’ll be pursuing this question, supported by a set of grants from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, over the coming five years.
Neighbourhood houses: Doing applied sociology in Vancouver
It’s 7:30 pm on May 6th, 2021 and I just left a Zoom event that included over 200 people who came together to celebrate the publication of my new book, Neighbourhood Houses: Building Community in Vancouver. The local neighbourhood house community in Vancouver organized the event, which used the book as a foundation for celebrating their work. Most participants at the event are directly engaged with the neighbourhood houses – directors, front-line staff, volunteers, and members. There were also local Mayors, MLAs and MPs from the region in attendance.
After 90 minutes of intense interaction – watching short videos, listening to others talk about the value of neighbourhood houses in their lives, participating in a panel discussing the importance of the book, chatting with dozens of people through the online chat tool – I am exhausted. And in that strange paradox of online interaction, my space that once included hundreds of people is now empty except for me. It allows me the moment to reflect on how I came to do this research and write this book …
The Institution of Marriage: Pursuing Conceptual Clarity
“In a series of articles, Lauer and Yodanis have criticized the idea that changes within marriage are large enough to justify using the term deinstitutionalization.” It is February 2020, and Andrew Cherlin, arguably the biggest name in the sociology of marriage over the past 20 years, has just called me out by name. He did this in the lead article of the Journal of Marriage and Family, easily the most influential academic outlet for research on marriage. It is the print version of his keynote address given at the 2019 meeting of the National Council on Family Relations.
Surprisingly, the path that led me here began with my being called out by another giant in the field, Jan Trost. While I was in the middle of giving a paper at the ISA in Durban South Africa, in mid-sentence more precisely, Trost yelled out, “Your concept is ridiculous!” The title of our paper that day was, Marriage money in the context of deinstitutionalized marriage …
Yan, M.C. & Lauer, S.R. (2021). Neighbourhood Houses: Building Community in Vancouver. Vancouver, Canada: UBC Press.
Yodanis, C. & Lauer, S. (2016). Getting married: The public nature of our private relationships. New York: Routledge.
Lauer, S.R. & Yan, M.C. (2021). Developing Social Capacity among Newcomers to Canada through Social Infrastructure: Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver. Journal of International Migration and Integration. Online first: httpe://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-021-00842-0
Yan, M.C. & Lauer, S.R. (2021). Connecting the dots: Neighbourhood houses and institutional accessibility. International Social Work. Online first: https://doi.org/10.1177/2F0020872820972469
Lauer, S., Yan, M.C. (2021). Canadian immigrant youth and co-ethnic friendship. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44, 4, 639-658
Other Sample Publications
Mniszak, C, Yodanis, C. and Lauer, S. (2017). Couple Clothes. Contexts, 16, 3, 65-67.
Yodanis, C and Lauer, S.R. (2014). Is marriage individualized? What couples actually do. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6, 184-197.
Lauer, S.R. & Yodanis, C. (2014). Money management, gender and households. In Treas, J., Scott, J. & Richards, M. (eds) Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of the Family. Wiley-Blackwell.
Lauer, S.R., & Yan, M. C. (2013). Voluntary association involvement and immigrant network diversity. International Migration, 51, 133-150.
Yodanis, C. Lauer, S.R., & Ota, R. (2012) Interethnic romantic relationships: Enacting affiliative ethnic identities. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 4, 1-17.
Lauer, S.R. & Yodanis, C. (2011). Individualized marriage and the integration of resources. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 669-683.
Lauer, S.R. & Yan, M.C. (2011). Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver: Bridging differences in the community. Diverse Cities, 8, 87-92.
Lauer, S.R. & Wong, Q. (2010). Transnationalism over the life course. Sociology Compass, 4, 1054-1062.
Lauer, S.R., & Yodanis, C. (2010) The deinstitutionalization of marriage revisited: A new institutional approach to changes in marriage. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 2, 58-72.