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Congratulations to the winners of the SSHRC Insight Grant Competition (Oct/11)

Melanie Heath, Assistant Professor in the department of Sociology won a 5 yr grant entitled: “Harm or Right? Polygamy’s Contested Terrain Within and Across Borders”. Amanda Grenier, Associate Professor in the department of Health, Aging & Society acquired a 3 yr grant named: “Homelessness in late life: growing old on the streets, in shelters and long-term care”. Finally, Svetlana Demidova, Assistant Professor in the department of Economics secured a 3 yr grant titled: “The Impact of Technology Differences on Firm Behavior and its Implications for Welfare of Trading Countries”.
Congratulations to the winners of the SSHRC Insight Grant Competition (Oct/11)

SSHRC Insight Grant Competition, image from 'Framing our Direction: 2010-2012' SSHRC webiste:

Congratulations to Sociology professor Dr. Melanie Heath, Economics professor Dr. Svetlana Demidova and Dr. Amanda Grenier (PI), Chair of McMaster's Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging, on their recent SSHRC grants. Dr. Heath received a five-year grant and both Dr. Demidova and Dr. Grenier each received three-year grants.


Dr. Heath's Project description:


How does the criminalization of polygamy challenge nation-states to wrestle with competing laws and values of women’s right to equality, the right to freedom of religion and culture, and the right to sexual and familial intimacy? This comparative research examines polygamy’s regulation to offer a window into national tensions concerning cultural tradition and transformations in sexual intimacy and family life in a globalizing world, and current practices to contend with contested meanings of gender equality, citizenship, human rights, and religious freedom. It seeks to answer three broad questions: 1) Does polygamy’s criminalization expand democratic citizenship rights and gender equality? 2) How do governments seek to balance competing rights of equality, sexual and familial intimacy, and religious freedom in regulating polygamy? 3) How do understandings of cultural patterns and laws regarding polygamy move across borders?


This five-year research project will use ethnographic methods and legal and media analysis to compare polygamy's criminalization in Canada, the United States, France, and Benin. Canada and the United States share an Anglo-Protestant heritage and a common border, and both face increasing concern over polygamy’s practice among fundamentalist Mormons. In France, where roughly 140,000 people live in polygamy, the government passed new legislation that seeks to compel these families to “de-cohabit.” Benin, a former French Colony, officially outlawed polygamy in 2004, but many people continue the practice. Studying competing rights in the regulation of polygamy will contribute to an emerging body of research that seeks to understand how rights, gender, sexuality, and culture interact, come into conflict, and discursively construct one another. This research will further add to the growing body of literature on rights and citizenship by mapping out the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion that reflect broad political patterns of social difference and inequality, and apply to other global issues such as the politics of the “veil” and sex trafficking.


For more information, please contact Dr. Heath at



Dr. Demidova's project description:


The main goal of this project is to study the choice of technology by firms, given these firms differ in many dimensions and may have access to different sets of technology depending on the country they are located. 
This will help to understand the role of trade in accelerating innovation at a firm level that, in turn, expands technological boundaries of trading countries. This will help answer the following questions: Will firms in the less technologically developed countries have larger incentives to invest into R&D and does trade liberalization have bigger outcomes on their decisions compared to firms in the technologically-advanced countries? Is it beneficial for both countries to promote more open trade or are there grounds for the protectionist trade policies? Can subsidies to different types of fixed costs (costs of entry into the market, costs of becoming an exporter, costs of upgrading the current technology) help less-developed countries catch up with their more-developed trading partners? If so, what type of subsidy is the most efficient in terms of cost-benefit analysis.


For more information, please contact


Dr. Grenier's Project description:


The challenges of an aging society are widely recognized on a global level. However, with the  majority of planning initiatives focused on 'healthy aging', 'aging in place' or pension policy, subgroups of older people whose experiences fall outside these frameworks are often overlooked. Such is the case for older homeless people, whose life course trajectories differ from standard expectations as a result of mental health issues, long-term under or unemployment, and/or strained family relationships. Although homeless strategies and initiatives are being developed in Canada, there is a tendency for these initiatives to target youth or working-age populations, resulting in knowledge and service gaps with regards to homelessness in late life.


This three-year research project explores the intersecting challenges of aging and homelessness in an urban context, a large shelter and long-term care facilities. We are concerned with the experiences of homelessness in relation to late life transitions, including impairment; long term care policy, marginalisation, and social exclusion; social care practices in sheltered housing; and poverty/economic inequality. Investigative methods include the analysis of homeless initiatives; administrative data; site observations; and interviews with older people and community services. Data from this project will provide insights on the experiences that occur at the intersection of aging and homelessness; outline the barriers that exist for older people 'aging on the streets'; and broaden existing understandings of aging, and homelessness within scholarly research and social programming.


For more information, please contact Dr. Grenier at

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