Mervyn Horgan (Assistant Professor)
Departmental Profile Link:
Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University
Degree & Discipline:
SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)
National University of Ireland, Cork
Cultural Sociology; Classical & Contemporary Social Theory; Social Solidarity; Strangership; Migrant Labour; Incivilities; Mental Health; History of the Social Sciences; Sociology of Community; Sociology of Everyday Life
I am a social theorist and cultural sociologist with a PhD in Sociology from York University (2010), and a BA and MA in Sociology from the National University of Ireland, Cork. While completing my PhD I spent some time as a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University and as a Researcher on the Culture of Cities Project in Toronto. Prior to joining the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph in 2013, I was Assistant Professor of Sociology and Graduate Program Coordinator in the Department of Sociology at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, where I was also active in the MA in Social and Political Thought. I am a co-founder and active member of the Canadian Network for Critical Sociology and former Secretary (2012-2016) of the Canadian Sociological Association (www.csa-scs.ca). I am also active in the CSA's Social Theory Research Cluster, and co-founded the Symposium for Early Career Theorists (SECT).
My research gathers an eclectic set of substantive interests grounded in a normative commitment to solidarity. I am particularly interested in social sites and scenes where solidarity is passively produced, tenuously assumed, or threatened with dissolution. To this end, I have long been interested in what I call ‘strangership’, thinking in particular about how relations between strangers are organized in a variety of settings (especially urban public spaces). Most recently, this has led me to work on developing a theory of ‘minimal mutual recognition’ to understand the conditions under which social solidarity and social justice might be achieved amongst strangers in diverse complex societies. My main current research project develops one element of this theory by examining 'rude' encounters between strangers in public space. More generally, I'm working on developing the concept of 'soft solidarity' to understand the ways that solidarity is sometimes made manifest in everyday encounters between strangers.
Keeping a few research projects on the go and collaborating with colleagues is always exciting. With Dr. Saara Liinamaa (Acadia University) I collaborated on a paper that develops new concepts for understanding how law shapes the experiences of migrant workers in rural Canada (Horgan & Liinamaa 2017). as well as co-authoring a working paper for the Atlantic Metropolis Centre and a policy brief for CIC. We're also working on an archival project that challenges conventional stories about the development of sociology in Canada. When I can I try to find the time to work on a few other projects: one is a case study of the symbolic dimensions of territorial stigmatization and gentrification in a Toronto neighbourhood, and the other is a theoretical synthesis of neo-Durkheimian cultural sociology and studies of the interaction order.
I am also active in mental health and housing advocacy, including working on research reports with the National Educational Association for Disabled Students and the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust.
If you are a graduate student interested in social theory, cultural sociology, social solidarity or urban sociology, please feel free to drop me a line to arrange a meeting. Outside of these areas, I’m happy to discuss supervisory committee membership with any student working in areas broadly related to my interests. Graduate students who work with me do research in many different subfields, and tend to share an appreciation for the practical value of good theory.
I'm active on twitter in fits and starts (@simmelian). Please email if you would like a copy of any of my papers for private study. If you are a publisher of one of papers and sharing my work in this way poses a problem please contact me.
SSHRC Insight Development Grant
McCain Foundation Emerging Scholar Award
Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching - University of Guelph Faculty Association
Significant Research Contributions:
Horgan, Mervyn & Liinamaa, Saara. 2017. “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. 2017. "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. 2017. “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. 2017. "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.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2014. “Durkheim, Development and the Devil: A Cultural Sociology of Community Conflict” Canadian Journal of Sociology 39:4. pp. 741-763.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2014. “Serendipitous City: Towards an Aleatory Urbanism” in Marchessault, Janine & Michael Darroch (eds). Cartographies of Place: Navigating the Urban. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press. pp. 55-76.
Horgan, Mervyn & Leslie Kern. 2014. “Urban Public Spaces: Streets,
Strangership and Securitization” in Hiller, Harry (ed). Urban Canada (3rd edition). Toronto: Oxford University Press. pp. 112-132.
Platt, Jennifer, Charles Crothers & Mervyn Horgan. 2013. “Producing Ethnographies: workplace ethnographies in history” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 49(1): 45-62.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2013. “Flop Houses, Fancy Hotels and ‘Second-Rate Bohemia’: Zorbaugh’s The Gold Coast and the Slum and the Gentrification Debate” in Low, Jacqueline & Gary Bowden (eds.). The Chicago School Diaspora: Epistemology and Substance. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press. pp. 178-198.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2012. “Strangers and Strangership” Journal of Intercultural Studies 33(6): 607-622.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2012. “Sweat, Slow Motion and Solidarity” Visual Studies 27(2): 164-172.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2004. “Anti-Urbanism as a Way of Life: Disdain for Dublin in the Nationalist Imaginary” in Continuity, Contradiction and Change in Contemporary Dublin. Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 30:2 (editors Kieran Bonner, Greg Nielsen and Mervyn Horgan).
Keohane, Kieran, Carmen Kuhling, & Mervyn Horgan. 2004. “Road Traffic Accidents and the Experience of Accelerated Modernization in Ireland” in Keohane, Kieran & Kuhling, Carmen. Collision Culture: Transformations in Everyday Life in Ireland. Dublin: The Liffey Press. pp. 9-40.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2003. “Where is the Social in a Self-Portrait? Towards a Sociology of Self-Portraiture”, in Blostein, David & Kleber, Pia (eds.) Mirror or Mask: Self-Representation in the Modern Age. Berlin: Humboldt University Press.
Keohane, Kieran, Carmen Kuhling, & Mervyn Horgan. 2003. “Collision Culture: Accelerated Modernization, Trauma and Irish Identity”, in Irish Journal of Sociology 12(1): 45-66.
Other Research Outputs :
Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT). 2017. "No Room for Unkept Promises: Parkdale Rooming House Study." Toronto: PNLT.
National Taskforce on the Experience of Graduate Students with Disabilities. 2016. “Understanding Accessibility in Graduate Education for Students With Disabilities in Canada” http://neads.ca/en/about/media/index.php?id=388#sthash.XVkjEJb9.dpuf - See more at:
Horgan, Mervyn. 2014. “The Stranger” in Forsyth, Craig & Heith Copes (eds), Encyclopedia of Social Deviance. New York: Sage.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2014. “A Dramatic Entrance” Review of the Edgley, Charles. Drama of Social Life: A Dramaturgical Handbook. Surrey: Ashgate in Symbolic Interaction 37(4): 621-623.
Horgan, Mervyn. & Saara Liinamaa. 2012. Double Precarity: Experiences of former seasonal agricultural workers who settle in rural Nova Scotia. Atlantic Metropolis Centre Working Paper Series.
Atlantic Metropolis Centre
Carlson, Jesse & Mervyn Horgan. 2011. “Altruism and Society sui generis: Countering Evolutionary Psychology with Durkheim” Altruism, Morality and Solidarity Forum, 3(1): 17-24. American Sociological Association.
Horgan, Mervyn. 2010. Review of Ortner, Sherry. Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject. Durham & London: Duke University Press. in Canadian Journal of Sociology 25(4).
Economy and Society Summer School (under the auspices of the President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative)
Title of Presentation:
"Morality, Meaning and Meeting: Logics and landscapes of justification in everyday urban encounters"
British Sociological Association Early Career Theorists’ Symposium
London School of Economics and Political Science
Title of Presentation:
“Minimal Mutual Recognition and the Urban Interaction Order”