Julia Goldman-Hasbun – Feature Profile

Julia-GH-e1558453563701Julia Goldman-Hasbun is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia.

 What are you research interests?

I am interested in social movements, emotions, and identity. My proposed dissertation will focus on student activism in university settings. Specifically, I am interested in understanding why right-wing activism exists on primarily liberal university campuses. I am also interested in the interactions between right-wing student activists and other student groups, faculty, and the university administration.

How did you become interested in political sociology and social movements?

My understanding of social movements has shifted significantly over the years. During my undergraduate degree in psychology, I understood collective action to be primarily irrational and dysfunctional. During my master’s degree in public health, I started to understand social movements as an avenue for challenging oppressive social and political structures. Then, during the first year of my PhD, a leftist student activist gave me a flyer raising awareness about a student club that was inviting openly homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and xenophobic speakers to campus. I was surprised that this was happening on my safe and cozy Canadian campus. I couldn’t understand why anyone around me would be supportive of such speakers. I became curious about the factors that lead to activism on both the right and the left – from the personal motivations to the structural factors. I have also been inspired by the work of Dr. Arlie Hochschild, who has studied right-wing social movements from a non-judgmental perspective, focusing on the sociopolitical context in the United States that led to a rise in the far-right.

Why does studying political sociology and/or social movements matter?

I hope that my dissertation work can help to inform policies that strike a balance between protecting free-speech rights and protecting the safety and well-being of the student population. More broadly, I think that social movement research can help us understand action, authority, and power.

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