Gillian Balfour

Trent University

Gillian Balfour is Associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Trent University.

Gillian recently completed a PhD in sociology at the University of Manitoba where she examined the role of lawyers in the criminalization of men and women accused of violent crimes. Her PhD research examined the practice of law as a social act that is constrained and enabled by socio-political interests of “law and order,” professional codes of conduct, and the identities of victims and offenders and the meaning of violence that are encoded with stereotypes of whiteness, Indianness, dangerousness, poverty, heterosexuality, femininity and masculinity.

Her research interests include law reforms in the areas of domestic and sexual violence, women, crime and social justice, feminist criminology and Aboriginal peoples in the criminal justice system. Gillian teaches Sociology of Law, Feminist Criminology and Introductory Sociology.

  • Criminalizing Women

    Gender and (In)Justice in Neoliberal Times, 2nd Edition

    Edited by Gillian Balfour and Elizabeth Comack     September 2014

    Criminalizing Women introduces readers to the key issues addressed by feminists engaged in criminology research over the past four decades. Chapters explore how narratives that construct women as errant females, prostitutes, street gang associates and symbols of moral corruption mask the connections between women’s restricted choices and the conditions of their lives.

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  • Understanding Societies

    Readings for Introductory Sociology

    Edited by Gillian Balfour     August 2012

    This book is a collection of critical readings that animate contemporary sociological theory and research. Students will learn how sociology can be relevant in their everyday lives as they are introduced to scholars who challenge conventional thinking about how the world works. Designed as a companion reader for introductory sociology students, each reading is set in context with clear linkages to Joanne Naiman’s How Societies Work. Students will read about racial profiling, wrongful convictions, homophobia, human trafficking, professional sports, sweatshop labour, and residential schools. Each chapter illustrates how sociologists think about social inequality, power, and social transformation.

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  • Criminalizing Women

    Gender and (In)justice in Neoliberal Times

    Edited by Gillian Balfour and Elizabeth Comack     January 2006

    This book introduces readers to the key issues addressed by feminists in their engagement with criminology over the past four decades. It explores the narratives of women’s lives as “errant females,” sex trade workers, “gang” members and drug traffickers to map out the connections between the choices women make and the conditions of their lives. It shows how criminalized women and girls have been disciplined, managed, corrected and punished as prisoners, patients, mothers and victims through imprisonment, medicalization and secure care. And it considers the feminist strategies that have been used to address the conditions inside women’s prisons, to defend criminalized women’s human rights and to draw attention to the systemic abuses against poor and racialized women.

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  • The Power to Criminalize

    Violence, Inequality and Law

    By Gillian Balfour and Elizabeth Comack     January 2004

    Law’s power to criminalize–to turn a person into a criminal–is formidable. Traditional legal doctrine argues that law dispenses justice in an impartial and unbiased fashion. Critical legal theorists claim that law reproduces gender, race and class inequalities. The Power to Criminalize offers an analysis that acknowledges the tensions between these two views of law. Drawing from crown attorneys’ files on violent crime cases and interviews with defence lawyers, the authors reveal the complex ways in which discourses of masculinity, femininity, race, class and social space inform the strategies used to litigate these cases. This analysis raises questions about the prospects of challenging law to realize a more just society.

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