My current research interests are the following:

1. The ethnographic study of social interactions and bodies in a variety of settings to investigate the implications of cultural ideas on status and practices.

2. Sociology of knowledge, as applied to the historical development of medical ideas, using quantitative methods and case studies.

In January 2014, I joined the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. I am Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesia, and a Scientist at the Wilson Centre and with Post-Graduate Medical Education, under the supervision of Drs. Charlotte Ringsted and Salvatore Spadafora, respectively. I am delighted to share that I will be using all of my skillset to investigate the development and rise of the patient safety movement in Canada. More soon on its very own project page!


1. Ethnographic Research

I started on a new ethnographic project at UCSF on September 1, 2012. It is titled: Understanding team-based care in intensive care settings: A multi-side study. Keep dropping by to see how it is evolving! So far we have gained access to two sites, submitted for ethics approval and are almost ready to submit a scoping review of the qualitative research literature on team dynamics in intensive care units. Next is a protocol paper. Then fieldwork begins!

I have conducted one other ethnographic project: an observant participation study of three boxing gyms across the U.S. and Canada. Two papers came out of this project:

Paradis, E. 2012. “Boxers, Briefs or Bras? Bodies, Gender and Change in the Boxing Gym,” Body & Society, 18(2), 82-109. PDF

Paradis, E. Forthcoming. “Skirting the Issue: Women boxers, liminality and change.” In lisahunter, Wayne Smith, elke emerald (Eds.) Fields of Physical Culture: Encounters with and beyond Pierre Bourdieu. Rough, pre-print PDF.

In the first paper, I use Bourdieu’s theory of practice to illustrate how ‘rules of the game’ shape people’s perceptions, interactions and positions (capital) at Full Contact, a San Francisco Bay Area boxing gym. Gender is at the core of my analysis, for it is both a fundamental part of my and others’ habitus, and a symbolic trait of significance in the hypermasculine doxa of boxing as a field. It was presented twice and won a best student paper award.

In the second paper, I combine Bourdieu’s theory of practice with Victor Turner’s concept of liminality to investigate the media response to the rumor that the International Boxing Association (AIBA) would force women amateurs to wear skirts in the ring for international competitions. This paper is quite timely, as it coincides with the first appearance of women’s amateur boxing at the Olympics in London, 2012. It was presented this fall at the 2012 SSSP Conference in Denver, CO. Slides can be found here.

Other papers inspired by this research on sport, gender and the body include: (a) my triple-gender task of women in men-dominated fields paper (PDF), (b) a short piece in French that I wrote for the Québec-City based Journal Sortie on gender, sports and homophobia (ici en PDF) and (c) a book review of Sarah Fields’ great book on gender in contact sports (PDF).

In the future, I intend to use ethnography to investigate bodies and status in health care. More specifically, I am interested to investigate the way (1) medical students (un)learn status differentials in medical practice, particularly based on visible cues about gender, sexuality, body fat, race, class and disability; (2) care teams develop, maintain and challenge hierarchies based on these stratifiers among themselves and with patients. My review of the sociology of medical education literature (below) leads me to believe that such dynamic processes in increasingly diverse societies are worth documenting and analyzing.

2. Sociology of Knowledge: The Construction of Medical Ideas

I have conducted three main projects in the sociology of knowledge: obesity research as a social construction; the evolution of the usage of the word “epidemic” in the medical literature; the transformation of interprofessional research in the medical literature.

The changing meaning of the word “epidemic” in the medical literature, 1900-2010

This research arose out of my dissertation research. I asked: How has obesity, a non-communicable disease, been turned discursively into an epidemic? In my dissertation, I compared counts of articles about the obesity epidemic with counts of articles about the diabetes and cancer epidemics inmedical literature from 1950-2010. I found that while diabetes came first as a linguistic innovation, the obesity epidemic dominated from 2000 onwards. This finding lead me to ask: What is an epidemic?

In this new project, I code the titles of all articles using the word “epidemic” in their titles or abstract from 1900 to 2010 in order to identify which conditions are labeled as epidemics over time and whether there has been an evolution in the meaning of the terms. Each condition is coded as contagious, non-contagious, indeterminate or non-diseases. Articles are then binned into these categories and mapped over time. We found massive growth in the number of conditions called epidemics over time and a significant rise in non-contagious and indeterminate epidemics.

A first paper was presented at ASA 2012 in Denver CO (it was accepted but not presented at 4S 2012, Copenhagen, DK):

Paradis, E., M. Albert, N. Byrne and A. Kuper. “The Changing Meaning of Epidemic in the Medical Literature, 1900-2010.” Slides can be found here.

We are hoping to see the paper in print soon.

Obesity Research as a Social Construction

This research includes my dissertation but also a couple of other projects that stemmed out of it.

Paradis, E., Reznick, R. and A. Kuper. 2012. “Body Fat as Metaphor: From Harmful to Helpful.” Canadian Medical Association Journal. Published online ahead of print. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.120100. Online here.

Paradis, E. Forthcoming. “ ‘Obesity’ as Process: The Medicalization of Fatness by Canadian Researchers, 1971-2010” In McPhail, D., Ellison, J. and W. Mitchinson (Eds.) “Obesity” in Canada: Historical and Critical Perspectives. University of Toronto Press.

The first paper is an essay that invites physicians to consider how their beliefs about body fat transform their care for fat patients. We argue that our cultural view of body fat as a disease in itself taints the care relationship and leads to prejudicial care. We suggest that physicians see body fat as a form of human diversity and revisit their assumptions about their fat patients.

In the second paper, I argue that the medical research community has enabled this discourse through its medicalization of body fat. I build upon insights from the medicalization of fat literature to evaluate the process as it unfolded in Canada. First, I compare weight trends with publication trends from 1971 to 2008, finding a major disconnect between the purportedly medical (obesity rates) and their medicalization (publication rates). Second, I analyze the titles of 7,090 publications on obesity that were published either by Canadian researchers or published about Canada to evaluate three main aspects of the medicalization of fat: the transformation of language, diagnosis and solutions.

Key Trends in Interprofessional Research

In collaboration with Scott Reeves, I have conducted a macrosociological, longitudinal analysis of interprofessional research as a field from 1970 to 2010. We analyze 100,488 publications and identify main trends in the literature, which we analyze using Bourdieu's theory of practice. We suggest that the field should develop an awareness of its knowledge production and purposefully decide on its future emphases.

Paradis, E. and S. Reeves. 2013. “Key trends in interprofessional research: A macrosociological analysis, 1970 to 2010.” Journal of Interprofessional Care, 27, 113-22. DOI: 10.3109/13561820.2012.719943. PDF here.

It was also presented twice this summer at the August 2012 AMEE Conference in Lyon, France and at the All Together Better Health VI Conference in Kobe, Japan, October 2012. Our Lyon poster can be found here; our Japan slides can be sent as requested.

With Scott Reeves, Audrey Lyndon, Kathleen Puntillo and Kathleen MacMillan, I have also conducted a longitudinal analysis of the place of nursing within interprofessional research from 1965 to 2010. We analyze 49,311 publications to analyze the trajectory of nursing in the discussion, and find nursing on a declining trajectory in terms of representation in the literature. The paper is currently under review.

Paradis, E., Lyndon, A., Puntillo, K., MacMillan, K., and S. Reeves. Under Review. “The Place of Nursing in the Interprofessional Literature: An Exploratory Longitudinal Analysis, 1965-2011.”

3. Sociology of Medical Education

Sociologists have contributed several insights to the study of medical education. In the following chapter written for the Oxford Textbook of Medical Education, I introduce medical educators to several sociological theorists and their conceptual apparati. I also review dozens of sociologically-inspired studies of medical education, inviting scholars to build upon their insights to further investigate medical education.

Paradis, E., Webster, F., and A. Kuper. Forthcoming. “Medical education in its social context.” Walsh, K. (Ed.) Oxford Textbook of Medical Education. Oxford University Press. Rough, pre-print PDF.

4. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Youth Online and LGBT Health

The Online Lives of LGBT Youth

In order to better understand the online behavior of LGBT youth, I have conducted a large-scale online survey that yielded 696 answers from youth across the United States. 120 questions were asked, covering topics of sexual and gender identity, online use, sense of community for online environments, access to offline LGBT resources, feelings of safety and acceptance. If you are interested in having access to the data for your own research, please write to me. I would be delighted to share the data or work in collaboration to use this important dataset.

A descriptive article using the data from the survey will be published in an edited volume.

Paradis, E. Forthcoming. “Searching for Self and Society: Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Online.” Wilson, A. and V. Bloomfield (Eds.) Voices of LGBTQ Students and Teachers: Changing the Culture of Schooling. Paradigm Publishers. PDF

In this paper, I use data from my survey to argue that the Internet holds lots of positive opportunities for LGBT youth, who find resources to develop their identities, develop relationships and forge communities.

Another article awaits a few weeks of free time to get polished up and sent out for review. It revisits the “shrunken space” argument for LGBT youth by illustrating the creative ways youth get over barriers to find one another using new technologies. The latest draft can be found here. More recent slides (PDF), from a talk on February 3rd, 2010, are here.

LGBT Health

From May 2010 to March 2012 I was a member of the Stanford University LGBT Medical Education Research Group (LGBT MERG). I was, with Stephanie Brenman, M.D. Candidate, responsible for the focus groups portion of the group’s evaluation of the medical curriculum on LGBT health. A paper is under preparation for submission. More information on the project can be found here:

5. International Comparative Work

I have worked with Prof. Christine Min Wotipka on various quantitative research projects related to women's condition across the world: the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, women’s studies and women in faculty positions across the world. We have also worked on the design of different undergraduate-level courses on women, education and development, as well as gender and higher education.

I have worked with Prof. Francisco Ramirez on a project related to the harmonization of higher education in Europe (the Bologna Process), and written my qualifying paper on the specific case of Germany. The paper, approved by Prof. Ramirez, Prof. Wotipka, and Prof. John W. Meyer, can be downloaded here (PDF).

Last updated: April 5, 2014.