Kate Cairns
Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies

Office: 329 Cooper Street, Room 213

Dr. Kate Cairns joined the Department of Childhood Studies in 2014 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research investigates dynamics of gender, culture and inequality, with particular focus on the construction of children and youth as the promise of collective futures. She has explored these dynamics across diverse sites, including rural schooling, maternal foodwork, and urban agriculture. Dr. Cairns serves on the editorial board for Gender & Society, is a member of the Common Worlds Research Collective, and is an elected council member for the Consumers and Consumption section of the American Sociological Association.

Dr. Cairns is the coauthor of Food and Femininity (2015, Bloomsbury) and Introducing Sociology Using the Stuff of Everyday Life (2017, Routledge). Her research on food, consumption and mothering has appeared in venues such as Gender & Society, Journal of Consumer Culture, Antipode, and Theory and Society. Past projects include a study of how rural Canadian youth imagine their futures in the context of neoliberalism, with publications in Ethnography and Education, Gender and Education, The Canadian Journal of Sociology, and The Canadian Geographer. In her current research, Dr. Cairns is investigating contemporary efforts to connect children and young people with their food. She teaches courses in children’s geographies, girlhood studies, and gender and education.


Ph.D., Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 2011

M.A., Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 2007

B.A., Department of Sociology (First Class Honours), McGill University, 2005


Childhood and Youth; Gender; Culture; Inequality; Sociology of Food; Consumption; Education; Children’s Geographies; Feminist Theory; Qualitative Methods; Girlhood Studies


Undergraduate: Children’s Geographies; Gender and Education; Developing Minds and Bodies; Introduction to Childhood Studies

Graduate: Children’s Geographies; Girlhood Studies


View Full CV Here



Johnston, Josée, Kate Cairns, and Shyon Baumann. 2017. Introducing Sociology Using the Stuff of Everyday Life. New York: Routledge.

Cairns, Kate, and Josée Johnston. 2015. Food and Femininity. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.


MacKendrick, Norah, and Kate Cairns. Forthcoming. The polluted child and maternal responsibility in the US environmental health movement. Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

Cairns, Kate. 2017. Connecting to food: Cultivating children in the school garden. Children’s Geographies 15(3): 304-318.

Cairns, Kate, Deborah McPhail, Claudyne Chevrier and Jill Bucklaschuk. 2015. The Family Behind the Farm: Race and the affective geographies of Manitoba pork production. Antipode. 47(5): 1184-1202. 

Cairns, Kate, and Josée Johnston. 2015. Choosing health: Embodied neoliberalism, postfeminism and the “do-diet”. Theory and Society. 44(2): 153-175.

Cairns, Kate. 2014. Both here and elsewhere: Rural girls’ contradictory visions of the future. Gender and Education, 26(5): 477-489.

Cairns, Kate. 2013. Youth, dirt, and the spatialization of subjectivity: An intersectional approach to white rural imaginaries. Canadian Journal of Sociology 38(4): 623-646.

Cairns, Kate, Josée Johnston and Norah MacKendrick. 2013. Feeding the ‘organic child’: Mothering through ethical consumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 13(2): 96-117.

Cairns, Kate. 2013. The subject of neoliberal affects: Rural youth envision their futures. The Canadian Geographer. 57(3): 337-344.

Cairns, Kate. 2013. Ethnographic locations: The geographies of feminist post-structural ethnography. Ethnography and Education 8(3): 323-337.

Cairns, Kate, Josée Johnston and Shyon Baumann. 2010. Caring about food: Doing gender in the foodie kitchen. Gender & Society 24(5): 591-615.

Cairns, Kate. 2009. A future to voice? Continuing debates in feminist research with youth. Gender and Education 23(3): 321-335.


Johnston, Josée, Kate Cairns, Merin Oleschuk. Forthcoming. A Kind Diet: Cultivating Consumer Politics, Status, and Femininity through Ethical Eating. The Handbook of Food and Popular Culture, edited by Kathleen LeBesco and Peter Naccarato. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Cairns, Kate. 2017. Morality and Relationality in Children’s Foodscapes. In Geographies of Identities and Subjectivities, edited by Claire Dwyer and Nancy Worth, Vol. 4 of Geographies of Children and Young People, editor-in-chief Tracey Skelton, 371-388. Singapore: Springer. 

Cairns, Kate. 2015. Girls’ studies in the rural. In Feminisms and Ruralities, edited by B. Pini, B. Brandth, and J. Little, 167-180. Lexington Books.

Cairns, Kate, Kim DeLaat, Shyon Baumann, and Josée Johnston. 2014. The caring, committed Eco-Mom: Consumer ideals and lived realities. In Green Consumption: The Global Rise of Eco-Chic, edited by B. Barendregt and R. Jaffe, 100-114. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Gaztambide-Fernández, Rubén, Kate Cairns, and Chandni Desai. 2013. The sense of entitlement. In Privilege, Agency, and Affect, edited by P. Aggleton and C. Maxwell, 32-49. Palgrave Macmillan.

Cairns, Kate. 2013. Reading futures: Exploring rural students’ literacy practices in neo-liberal times. In Rethinking Rural Literacies: Transnational Perspectives, edited by B. Green and M. Corbett. Palgrave.

Cairns, Kate. 2012. Partnering power: Questions posed from governmentality. In Canadian education: Governing practices and producing subjects, edited by B. L. Spencer, K. D. Gariepy, K. Dehli, and J. Ryan. Calgary: Sense Publishers.

Johnston, Josée, and Kate Cairns. 2012. Eating for change. In Commodity activism: Cultural resistance in neoliberal times, edited by S. Banet-Weiser and R. Muhkerjee, 219-239. New York University Press.

Johnston, Josée, Shyon Baumann, and Kate Cairns. 2010. The national and the cosmopolitan in cuisine: Constructing America through gourmet food writing. In The globalization of food, edited by D. Inglis and D. Gimlin, 161-183. London: Berg Publishers.

Selected News and Media Appearances

Cairns, Kate, Josée Johnston and Merin Oleschuk. 2017. Calibrating extremes: The balancing act of maternal foodwork. Blog post for Gender & Society. October 17, 2017.

Roussel, Annelyne. 2017. Sexiste, La Culture Foodie? Gazette des Femmes, 3 Feb 2017.

Johnston, Josée, Kate Cairns, and Shyon Baumann. 2017. Using Consumer Culture to Teach Sociological Thinking. Blog post for Consume This! Jan 4 2017.

Oleschuk, Merin, Kate Cairns, and Josée Johnston. 2016. Let’s Rethink the Pressure of Cooking Family Meals this Holiday Season. Blog post on Huff Post Parents Canada, December 20, 2016.

Food & Femininity (with Dr. Kate Cairns). Interview on the Racist Sandwich podcast, June 29, 2016.

Eblen, Shannon. 2016. Organic, low-fat, gluten-free: What food labels mean. Courier-Post, 19 Feb 2016.

Markey, Charlotte N. 2016. Eating Right in 2016: Still ‘Women’s Work?’ Feature on Psychology Today, Jan. 11, 2016.

Even in the 21st Century, women take on the major role in food work. Interview on NewsWorks Tonight, WHYY, Dec. 24, 2015.

McLaughlin, Tom. 2015. A Full Plate: Rutgers-Camden Researcher Explores Food and Femininity in New Book. Rutgers Today Feature, December 11, 2015.

Do You Have an Organic Child? Interview on the Slate parenting podcast, Mom and Dad Are Fighting. July 30, 2015.

Cole, Nicki Lisa. 2014. Introducing Kate Cairns. Consumed. Newsletter for the Consumers and Consumption Section of the American Sociological Association. 18 July, 2014.