Laura M. Funk, Ph.D


Laura M. Funk, Associate Professor
307 Isbister Building


Research Interests 

  • Aging and social determinants
  • Paid and unpaid care work
  • Death and dying
  • Qualitative and interpretive methods

  Academic Biography 

  • BA (Honours) University of British Columbia, Sociology (1997)
  • Post-baccalaureate diploma, Simon Fraser University, Gerontology (2000)
  • MA, University of Victoria, Sociology (2002), funded by BC Health Research Foundation/Canadian Health Services Research Foundation
  • PhD, University of Victoria, Sociology (2008), funded by SSHRC
  • Post-doctoral fellowship, University of Victoria, Centre on Aging (2011), funded by CIHR


Most often, I teach SOC 2620 (The Sociology of Aging), and SOC 7420 (Qualitative Research Methods for Sociological Inquiry).  I have also taught SOC 3450, which focuses on social determinants of health. Past students have commented that I provide prompt and complete feedback, am well prepared, approachable, helpful, and enthusiastic; these have been identified as principles of effective teaching.

In 2015, I authored Sociological Perspectives on Aging for Oxford University Press and currently use it in my own teaching.

Graduate Student Recruitment

I welcome the chance to supervise highly motivated graduate students with interests in the sociological study of aging, health, and formal and informal (family) care.  I am committed to promoting integrity within a supportive and encouraging graduate student-supervisor partnership, and look forward to helping guide students in their academic and career goals. Students are expected to demonstrate integrity, sensitivity and considerable diligence and effort in their pursuit of academic success.

I am currently supervising graduate students who are examining a range of sociological issues related to personal care homes; home-based care for older adults; and palliative and end of life care.

Periodically, I receive grants to fund my program of research (see below), and I often hire and train graduate student research assistants to help with literature reviews, qualitative interviewing, qualitative data analysis, writing, and project coordination.  Although I cannot guarantee these opportunities to incoming students, students should let me know if they would like to be considered should openings arise. 

Program of Research and Selected Key Publications

My program of research primarily addresses issues related to responsibility and care/support for older adults and for dying persons.  I use qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods to address these issues in various ‘sites’ (i.e., long-term care, health promotion, home care and family care work). Most often I employ interpretive or critical perspectives, though I also generate more applied gerontological and health care research.  Those wishing a more detailed publication list may contact me directly; links to abstract and citation information for selected recent first-authored publications are included below. 

Most recently, I have explored the often-invisible contributions of family carers, including system navigation work (Research Manitoba Establishment Award, 2013-2017), as well as how politically and economically motivated changes in Canadian health and long-term sectors have led to increasing reliance on volunteers and paid companions (Centre on Aging Research fellowship, 2012) and complicated the emotional labour of nurses and health care aides (Riverview Health Centre Grant, 2012)

In 2018 I am leading a SSHRC Insight Grant team of researchers using mixed methods to examine the intersection between policy discourse and public understandings of the meaning of dying at home and responsibility for end of life care.  I also received an internal research grant in 2018 to examine how older adults and their carers are engaged in democratic governance processes in Manitoba.

I am also wrapping up work on a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2016-2018) examining how people working and interacting with older adults in different situations interpret the meaning of aggression and violence.

Lastly, I am also well-known for a separate line of research into the phenomenon of "Living Apart Together," especially as this phenomenon is expressed among older adults..

Recent Public Sociology

In recent years I have contributed to the public discourse on family caregiving through two Op-Eds including one in 2018 and another in 2017 that was reprinted widely and recently updated in French language.  In 2018 I also authored an academic blog post for the International Network on Critical Gerontology.  I also frequently provide media interviews on topics ranging from home care, to family caregiving to Living Apart Together.

My other contributions to public sociology also focus on enhancing the quality of life of family caregivers and older adults.  I am a member of the Manitoba Caregiver Coalition and disseminate my research to health care practitioners and policy-makers (e.g., Long-Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, Alzheimer's Society of Manitoba, Manitoba Gerontological Nurses Association).  In addition, in 2012 I led a consultation process with 400 family and friend caregivers for Manitoba's Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat.

Selected Recent Publications 

Funk, L.M., Peters, S., & Rogers, K.S.(online first 2018). Caregivers about dying persons and their families: interpretation, practice and emotional labour. Health and Social Care in the Community.

Funk, L.M., Dansereau, L., & Novek, S. (2017). Carers as system navigators: Exploring sources, processes and outcomes of structural burden.  The Gerontologist

Funk, L.M., Peters, S., & Roger, K.S. ( 2017). The emotional labor of personal grief in palliative care: Balancing caring and professional identities.  Qualitative Health Research, 27(14), 2211-2221.

Funk, L.M., & Roger, K.S. (2017).  Implications of the shifting landscape of residential care for volunteers' lived experiences and role involvement. Ageing International, 42(1), 44-61.

Kobayashi, KJ., Funk, L.M., & Khan, M.M. (2017). Constructing a sense of commitment in "Living Apart Together" (LAT) relationships: Interpretive agency and individualization.  Current Sociology, 65(7), 99-1009.

Funk, L.M., & Kobayashi, K. (2016).  From motivations to accounts: an interpretive analysis of "Living Apart Together" relationships in mid- to late- life. Journal of Family Issues. 37(8), 1101-1122.

last updated: August 2018