A Brief Report on Research in the Sociology of Work

Steven Vallas, Northeastern University

Sociologists studying work, organizations, and economic institutions will already know about Research in the Sociology of Work, sponsored by OOW for several years now. Here’s brief report on recent events. Now using a hybrid model, RSW is open to both general-topic submissions in the field and to papers responding to thematic calls for special issues.

In fall of 2017, volume 30 of RSW was devoted to Emerging Conceptions of Work, Management, and the Labor Market. The lead paper (by Ofer Sharone), concerned LinkedIn’s effect on labor institutions (you can listen to Ofer’s podcast here). Six other papers were included in this volume, variously devoted to race and social closure, workplace changes facing health care providers, labor control in  a British call center, downsizing and the shareholder conception of the firm, among other topics.

Volume 31 was published in spring 2018, with Arne Kalleberg and I serving as editors of Precarious Work: Causes, Characteristics, and Consequences. The volume contained 16 papers on the trend toward uncertain or non-standard forms of employment and included a comprehensive introduction by the editors. Papers addressed questions of theory and method in precarity studies; causes and manifestations of precarious work in the United States; cross-national differences in the rise of job and labor market insecurity; how gender and race shape exposure to labor market trends; and the consequences of precarious work for health, well-being and the social order writ large. Among the more prominent contributors were Sharon Zukin, Christine Williams, David Brady, Mike Wallace, Caroline Hanley and Anna Branch. Zukin’s paper, co-authored with Max Papadantonakis, received coverage at Wired magazine, and has been downloaded more than 1,200 times.

In the works is Volume 32, Entitled Race, Work and Identity. Edited by Ethel Mickey and Adia Harvey Wingfield, this edition of RSW includes papers on identity among the unemployed, status games among occupants of “cool” jobs, the lived experience of race within corporate employment, the college to work transition among workers of color, and occupational activism among participants of the civil rights movement. Contributors include Dan Cornfield, George Wilson, Fiona Kay, Vincent Roscigno, Kevin Stainback and Wingfield herself (along with co-authors Lynn Smith-Lovin and Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman). It should be published by the end of the calendar year.

Also forthcoming is Volume 33, edited by myself and the Finnish scholar Anne Kovalainen. It will be devoted to Work and Labor in the Digital Age, and will contain papers by senior scholars such as Jerry Jacobs, John Zysman and Martin Kenney. It should appear early in the spring of 2019.

Readers will want to make sure their institutions provide access to this source of scholarship in the field, and to RSW’s sister periodical, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, edited by longtime OOW member Michael Lounsbury.

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