Ken Caine, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Sociology Dept


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Sociology Dept
(780) 492-5853
4-25 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H4


Area of Study / Keywords

Environmental Sociology Environmental Governance Natural Resource Management Critical Institutionalism Social Practice Theory Power and the Environment Bourdieu Qualitative Research Methods Ethnography Circumpolar Northern Canada


I am an Environmental Sociologist in the Department of Sociology. I completed my PhD in Rural Sociology from the University of Alberta in 2008. Originally from the Northwest Territories (NWT), I was trained as a forester (BSc. Forestry) and worked as an extension forester (research, application, and education) for the Government of the NWT and later in Northern British Columbia with Indigenous groups on forest stewardship issues. As an environmental sociologist I explore social practices, power dynamics, and institutional change in the context of environmental governance and natural resource management in the western Arctic of the Canadian North and in other circumpolar regions. Outside of work, I play tennis and ice hockey, ride and constantly rebuild my 30-year old Miele mountain bike, and pretend to enthusiastically explore remote beaches with my partner, son, and Bernese Mountain Dog all the while just looking for the ideal spot to sit back and read Haruki Murakami, Jeff VanderMeer, Olga Tokarczuk, William Gibson and Arundhati Roy.


I am interested in social practices, power dynamics, and critical institutionalism related to environmental governance. I do this through theoretical and empirical investigation of issues surrounding community-based natural resources management, co-management, and community social development; decision-making and the commons; and social-ecological change and local culture. My educational and experiential background in natural science (forestry, ecology) and social science (sociology, extension) provides me with the intellectual tools to move between these research areas.

My research to date consists of qualitative fieldwork in the Canadian North on Indigenous land governance issues specifically around cultural landscapes and watershed management where the power of stories interact with political power structures suggesting stories and land-use as forms of governance. I am interested in the intersection of power, culture, and environmental and resource governance in circumpolar regions as well as areas where communities face development issues around energy, water and climate change. In my research I problematize environmental governance through a Bourdieusian lens attempting to understand how power and meaning lead to a variety of outcomes, both positive and negative. Methodologically, I am interested in issue-oriented ethnography and ethnographic methods, as well as other qualitative methods. I am especially interested in the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods in research design and application.

My recent research (SSHRC Insight Development Grant) explores how Indigenous youth within the formal education system in the Northwest Territories understand, express and apply their unique knowledge that is simultaneously derived from Dene knowledge and school-based knowledge, in the context of co-management-based natural resource management. 

Graduate students interested in the above research areas can contact me directly.

Current Supervised Graduate Students:

Rezvaneh Erfani Hossein Pour (PhD Candidate / Vanier Scholar; Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholar): Imagining New Environmentalisms: Social and Political Capacities of Environmental Activism in the Middle East

Jasmiini Fransala (PhD Candidate - Anthropology, University of Oulu, Finland; Co-supervised with Hannu Heikkinen): Mining and environmental risk governance in the circumpolar North – a quest for social justice?

Luke Wonneck (PhD Student / SSHRC-CGS Joseph-Armand Bombardier Graduate Scholar): Exploring Social Practice Networks that Impact Riparian Health in Alberta’s Agricultural Lands

Denise Thompson (PhD Student, Pediatrics)

Current Supervised Sociology Honours Undergraduate Thesis Students

Sky Thompson (Honours Undergraduate) (2022- )

Recently Graduated Students:

Dr. Shingi Mandizadza (PhD Candidate / Vanier Scholar): Land, power and gender in Zimbabwe

Jessica Frankiewicz (Honours Undergraduate) (2021- 2022)

Freya Hammond-Thrasher (Honours Undergraduate / Samuel M Strong Medal in Sociology): Understanding Indigenous Food Sovereignty in Urban Canada (2019-2020)

Caitlin Parker (Honours Undergraduate). Co-supervised with Dr. Eva Bogdan (2020-2021)

Dr. Eva Bogdan (PhD, 2019 - SSHRC-CGS Joseph-Armand Bombardier Graduate Scholar): Flooding discourse: Perceptions and practices of the 2013 flood management in High River, Alberta. Contact:

Dr. Jennifer Braun (PhD, 2019 - SSHRC Doctoral Scholar): Making a Place at the Table: Examining the Influence and Impact of Women in Agricultural Leadership in the Canadian Prairies. Contact:

Amanda Evans (MA, 2018 - SSHRC Scholar): An Ecological habitus on the oil field? The paradox of climate change and the environmental attitudes and behaviours of northern Alberta oilsands workers.

Rezvaneh Erfani Hossein (MA, 2018): A Postcolonial Critique of Environmental Justice: A Discourse Analysis of United Nations Documents on Post-Invasion Iraq and Afghanistan


Current Courses Taught:

SOC 518 - Qualitative Methods in Social Research

SOC 291 - Introduction to Environmental Sociology (with Community Service-Learning)

SOC 203 - Social Problems

SOC 100 - Introductory Sociology

SOC 407/408 - Sociology Honours Thesis

Courses Previously Taught:

SOC 656 - Topics in Environmental Sociology: Society, Power and the Environment

RSOC 365 – Sociology of Environment and Development (2008-2010)

CSL 350/360 – Oil and Community: Health Equity in a Petro-Environment - Community Service-Learning (2011)


SOC 100 - Introductory Sociology

An examination of the theory, methods, and substance of Sociology. The study of how societies are shaped including economy, culture, socialization, deviance, stratification, and groups. The process of social change through social movements, industrialization, etc. Note: Not to be taken by students with credit in SOC 300.

SOC 203 - Social Problems

Selected structural issues in various societies, including inequality, population growth, environment, and human rights. Note: Not to be taken by students with credit in SOC 102.

SOC 291 - Introduction to Environmental Sociology

Sociological examination of the relationship between human societies and the natural environment.

SOC 518 - Qualitative Methods in Social Research

Prerequisite: SOC 418 or equivalent or permission of Instructor.

Browse more courses taught by Ken Caine

Featured Publications

Bogdan, Eva. Angelyna, Beckie, Mary A., and Ken J. Caine

International Journal of River Basin Management. 2020 February;

Unraveling the Social Construction of a Flooding Disaster: A Threaded Situation Analysis Approach.

Bogdan, Eva Angelyna, Caine, Ken J., and Mary A. Beckie.

International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters . 2020 January;

Braun, Jennifer, Beckie, Mary, and Ken J. Caine.

Agriculture and Human Values. 2020 January; 37

Bassi, Emilie M., John R. Parkins and Ken J. Caine

Sociologia Ruralis. 2018 June; 59 (2):275-293

Parlee, Brenda L and Ken J. Caine

UBC Press. 2018 January;

Understanding Indigenous strategic pragmatism - Métis engagement with extractive industry developments in the Canadian North

Wanvik, Tarje and Ken J. Caine

The Extractive Industries and Society. 2017 January;

Ken J. Caine

Rural Sociology. 2016 January; 81 (2):194-223

Ken J. Caine, Naomi T. Krogman

Organization and Environment. 2010 January; 23 (1):76-98

Caine, Ken J., Michael J. Salomons, Deborah Simmons.

Development and Change. 2007 January; 38 (3):447-471