Cynthia Cranford

Cynthia Cranford

Professor Sociology
Office Location:
3359 Mississauga Road
Mississauga , ON
L5L 1C6

Dr. Cynthia Cranford studies inequalities of gender, work and migration, and collective efforts to resist them. She has analyzed this nexus of inequalities and resistance through both in-depth, case studies of precarious migrant workers, like janitors in Los Angeles and temporary agency workers in Toronto, and analyses of insecure labour markets in Canada and the U.S. Her recent research compares the social organization of in-home personal care and support – the bodywork, emotion-work and housework that allows elderly, chronically ill and disabled people to live at home – across different contexts.

Home Care Fault Lines by Cynthia CranfordDr. Cranford’s book, Home Care Fault Lines: Understanding Tensions and Creating Alliances (2020, Cornell University Press)  analyzs the dynamics that exacerbate, and alleviate, tensions between elderly and disabled people’s quest for flexible services and workers’ pursuit of security. Cranford compares four programs providing support to adults with physical disabilities and elderly people across and within class and racial lines, inside and outside of families, and provided to, and by, both women and men in Toronto and Los Angeles. This qualiative analysis is based on interviews with over three hundred people, including the elderly and disabled people who use home care services, the workers that directly provide them and key informants from government, employers, disability advocates, and labor organizers. To support both flexible care and secure work, Cranford argues we need deeply democratic alliances to advocate for universal state funding, design culturally sensitive, labour market intermediaries to assist in finding workers and jobs, and to address everyday tensions in home-workplaces. Two Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada grants supported this book project.

Dr. Cranford is also collaborating with academics and community organizations to analyze ethnic care economies, where immigrant workers provide paid and unpaid home care to elderly immigrants in the same community. We have published two papers on the first case study of publicly funded elder care in Oakland’s Chinatown in Gender, Migration and the Work of Care and in a special issue of Critical Sociology. Our other case studies focus on publicly funded home care within Los Angeles Koreatown and the crisscrossing public and private care economy organized through agencies, cooperatives and government social services within the Los Angeles Pilipinix community. A SSHRC partnership grant funded this research project on co-ethnic Immigrant Labour Markets for Personal Care Work.

Dr. Cranford is also engaged in research with UTM students on a project entitled “Understanding Labour Markets for Immigrant Workers in Peel Region” through the Department’s Peel Social Lab. Analyzing interviews collected by UTM students with workers from a range of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern and Southern Europe, this qualitative study shows how multiple dynamics work together to shape the position of immigrant workers within a precarious labour market and how they navigate their place within it over time.

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Selected Publications 

Cranford, Cynthia, Angela Hick, and Louise Birdsell Bauer. 2018. “Lived Experiences of Social Unionism: Toronto Homecare Workers in the Late 2000s.” Labor Studies Journal 43(1):74-96.

Cranford, Cynthia. 2014. “Towards Flexibility with Security for (Im)migrant Care Workers: A Comparative Analysis of Personal Home Care in Ontario and California.” In Migration and Care Labour: Theory, Policy and Politics, edited by Bridget Anderson and Isabel Shutes. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cranford, Cynthia and Diana Miller. 2013. “Emotion Management from the Client’s Perspective: The Case of Personal Home Care.” Work, Employment and Society 27(5):785-801.

Cranford, Cynthia. 2012. “Gendered Projects of Solidarity: Workplace Organising among Immigrant Women and Men.” Gender Work and Organization 19(2):142-164.

Cranford, Cynthia. 2007. “Constructing Union Motherhood: Gender and Social Reproduction in the Los Angeles Justice for Janitors Movement.” Qualitative Sociology, 30(3):361-381.

Cranford, Cynthia, 2005. “Networks of Exploitation: Immigrant Labor and the Restructuring of the Los Angeles Janitorial Industry.” Social Problems 52(3):379-397.

Cranford, Cynthia, Judy Fudge, Eric Tucker, and Leah F. Vosko. 2005. Self-Employed Workers Organize: Law, Policy, and Unions. Montreal, QC/Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Cranford, Cynthia and Deena Ladd. 2003. “Community Unionism: Organising for Fair Employment in Canada.” Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society 3(Fall):46-59.

Cranford, Cynthia, Leah F. Vosko, and Nancy Zukewich. 2003. “The Gender of Precarious Employment in Canada.” Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations. 58(3):454-482.


Gender; Work; Migration
Current Courses: 
SOC352H5, SOC387H5, SOC4460H5
Ph.D. (University of Southern California)