Chris Hurl

Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology


Chris Hurl
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4283
Email: chris.hurl@concordia.ca

Education

Ph.D. Sociology, with a specialization in Political Economy (Carleton University)


Teaching activities

Areas of Undergraduate Teaching

1. Classical Social Theory
2. Sociology of Occupations
3. Social Inequalities
4. Economic Transformations in Capitalist Society

Areas of Graduate Teaching

1. Political economy
2. Governance and regulation
3. Urban studies
4. Sociology of work
5. Social movements
6. Modes of Critique in Contemporary Sociology and Anthropology


Research activities

Research interests

My research looks at the economization of the state. How have economic discourses, technologies and metrics been deployed in rethinking the state as an object of governance and in restructuring public services? And how have these efforts been contested? How might we think about public services differently?

In conducting this research, I am influenced by a range of theoretical approaches, including science and technology studies, Marxist political economy, and institutional ethnography. I also utilize different methods, including interviews, participant observation, and archival research.

Research topics

I'm currently working on four research projects:

1) The Financialization of Public Infrastructures
As a co-organizer of the Financializing Infrastructures Working Group, I position myself at the intersection of emerging debates on financialization and infrastructure development. Along these lines, my current research looks at how public infrastructures have been transformed into objects of financial speculation. How has the introduction of financial modes of calculation changed the way in which public infrastructures are assessed and governed?

2) The Politics of Benchmarking Cities
I'm investigating the transformation of urban governance through the deployment of new metrics for ranking and assessment. Over the past three decades, transnational professional service firms have developed benchmarks gauging city performance in a variety of areas, from innovation and smartness to friendliness and quality of life. How have these new technologies rendered cities legible and comparable in different ways? And what are the political implications?

3) Data Activism
I'm just beginning a new project investigating the sense-making practices of data activist groups around the world. In the context of increasing technological and organizational complexity, and with the proliferation of new institutional processes and procedures governing access to information, how do social activists generate the capacity to make sense of the institutions that they confront? What practices and strategies have they developed for gleaning information about government and corporations in the digital age? How do they share these strategies and promote learning and critical literacies amongst their members and citizens that they hope to recruit or collaborate with?

4) Remembering Free Trade Struggles
I'm engaged in an ongoing project that documents the history of struggles against free trade in Canada. During the 1980s, a number of broad-based coalitions emerged across Canada -- including labour unions, religious organizations, scholars, artists and concerned citizens Through the collection of oral histories and related ephemera, this research sets out to develop a public archive documenting the experiences of those who were involved, as well exploring how the politics of free trade have changed over the past three decades.


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