Department of Sociology

Department of


site header

Mandi Veenstra

Ph.D. Candidate 
M.A. Sociology (Queen’s University) 
B.A. (Hons.) Sociology; minor in Psychology (Nipissing University)

Office: D402 Mackintosh-Corry Hall 
Supervisor: Dr. Annette Burfoot

Research Interests

Mothering, motherhood, marginalization, material feminism, Canadian social policy, child welfare, preventative programming, risk management, Finnish social welfare system, comparative policy analysis


Ph.D. Sociology (in progress) Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada 
M.A. Sociology (2015) Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada 
B.A. Honours with Distinction (2007) Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada

Teaching Interests

  • Fall 2017: Teaching Fellow for SOCY 384 Women and Reproductive Technologies (Queen’s University)
  • Winter 2016 & 2017: SOCY 336 Sociology of Work and Technology (Queen’s University)
  • Fall 2015 & 2016: SOCY 352 Family Diversity (Queen’s University)
  • Fall & Winter 2014/2015: SOCY 122 Introduction to Sociology (Queen’s University)
  • Fall & Winter 2013/2014: SOCY 122 Introduction to Sociology (Queen’s University)
  • Fall & Winter 2005/2006: Introduction to Sociology (Nipissing University)

Academic Scholarships and Awards

  • 2017-2018 - Graduate Dean's Doctoral Field Travel Grant
  • 2016-2019 - Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship (SSHRC)
  • 2015-2016 - Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS)
  • 2014-2015 – SSHRC-CGS – Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement
  • 2014-2015 – SSHRC Canadian Graduate Scholarship – Master’s
  • 2014-2015 - Sociology Department Conference Travel Award
  • 2014-2015 - Ontario Graduate Scholarship (regretfully declined)
  • 2014-2015 - Blakely Student Initiative Award
  • 2013-2014 - Ban Righ Foundation Helen Richards Campbell Award
  • 2013-2014 - Queen’s Entrance Tuition Award
  • 2013-2014 - Queen’s Graduate Award
  • 2005-2006 - Nipissing University Alumni Sociology Award
  • 2003-2007 - Aiming for the Top Tuition Scholarship
  • 2004-2007 - Carl Sanders Scholarship
  • 2003-2004 - Nipissing University President’s Scholarship

Research Experience

  • Summer/Fall 2018: Visiting doctoral student in the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophies at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Spring/Summer 2015: Visiting SSHRC research student at University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Ph.D. Research 

My doctoral research addresses the current call for reform within Canadian child welfare to increase preventative services and to provide improved access to quality family support measures within the existing state-sanctioned child welfare paradigm. Situated within the disciplinary framework of Sociology of the Family, the proposed research examines Canadian child welfare reform through an international comparison with the Finnish counterpart and identifies current contradictions between policy, practice, and experience.

Risk has become politically entangled with policing the moral economy of Canadian nationalism and the surveillance of dominant-held values and morals. For caregivers in Canada, involvement with child welfare is not correlated with constructive and progressive assistance from the state. This comparative case study investigates the lived experiences of mothers navigating current preventative and family support programs within Ontario and Jyväskylä child welfare services. While scholarship exists on the marginality of families involved with Canadian child welfare, there is limited scholarship on mothers’ experiences specifically. Together, the absence of mothers’ voices and current tensions in defining risk in child welfare reform are identified as sociological problems.

While Finland is not without their own areas of concern, they currently serve as global leaders in their valuation of care work and gender equality. This project identifies a correlation between welfare state models and different ways of organizing social work and engaging with families. A focus on preventative measures and the role of social workers as both helpers and controllers, by example, are key differences from Canadian models of child welfare.


Veenstra, Mandi and Marlee Keenan. 2017. “Manufacturing Ideologies of the “Bad” Mother: Aboriginal Mothering, “Neglectful” Caregiving, and Symbolic Violence in the Ontario Child Welfare System” in Bad Mothers: Representations, Regulations, and Resistance edited by Hughes-Miller, Michelle, Tamar Hagar, and Rebecca Bromwich. Toronto, ON: Demeter Press.

Presentations and Conferences

  • InterConnection: Navigating People, Society & Culture - Queen's University (April 2017)
  • National Indigenous Social Work Conference – University of Manitoba (October 2016)
  • Gala Conference Celebrating MIRCI’s 20th Anniversary “Mothers, Mothering, and Motherhood in Today’s World” – Toronto, ON (October 2016)
  • Guest Lecture “The Social Construction of Mothering Dichotomies”- Queen’s University (October 2015) SOCY 352 Family Diversity
  • Department of Sociology Colloquium “Pathways and Intersections”- Queen’s University (May 2015)
  • SSHRC-CAGS Roundtable “Imagining Canada’s Future: Future Challenge Areas” – Queen’s University (April 2015)
  • 21st Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference “Meaning in Motion: Knowledge, Dialogue, and Discourse” – Concordia University (March 2015)
  • 2015 Religion Conference “Religion Interruptus: The Affects of Sex, Politics, and Bodies” – Syracuse University (February 2015)
  • Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement Conference  “Mothers, Mothering, and Motherhood in Literature” – Ryerson University (October 2014)
  • Department of Sociology Graduate Student Symposium- Queen’s University (May 2014)
  • Epistemology and Ethics: Graduate Student Symposium on Research Methodology –Queen’s University (April 2014)

Academic Activities 

  • Fall 2016 – Co-editor of Equity Talk Newsletter
  • 2015-2016 – Ph.D. Graduate Student Representative – Queen’s University Sociology Departmental    Committee
  • 2013-Present – Sociology Department Equity Committee