Jennifer W. Bouek (Brown University, 2019)
Jennifer Bouek’s research unites the sociological study of poverty and inequality; organizational and economic sociology; and the sociology of families and gender.
Her dissertation, The Ecological Patterning and Effects of Child Care Markets, is a mixed methods exploration of the institution of child care, supported by the National Science Foundation and Brown University’s Program in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations. Existing scholarship has demonstrated the robust relationship between child care availability and maternal employment. Yet this body of work does not adequately account for the role of politics and policies in structuring the child care market. Drawing on 89 in-depth interviews with mothers, child care providers, and policymakers, supplemented with spatial and archival analysis of administrative records, survey data, and non-participant observation at state meetings, she investigates three inquiries: 1) how and why child care organizational environments vary across socioeconomic bounds at the neighborhood and individual levels, 2) how the organization of the market shapes a mother’s access to care, and 3) the effects of inequitable access to child care on a mother’s employment trajectory, real and imagined. Through the course of three empirical chapters, Jennifer offer a revised account of the child care market to illustrate how institutional politics, policies, and practices, mothers’ access to care, and maternal employment trajectories are intricately intertwined.
Daniel Davis (UC San Diego, 2018)
Daniel Davis studies college-to-career transitions, organizations, entrepreneurism, and work. He won the James Coleman Outstanding Article award, along with his co-authors, for their paper in Sociology of Education (2016) titled “Career Funneling.” He published a book titled Contingent Academic Labor: Evaluating Conditions to Improve Student Outcomes (2017, Stylus Press). A Kauffman Entrepreneurship Dissertation Fellow, Davis has another article published in the Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and several other works in progress from his dissertation, all related to how universities set students up (in good and bad ways) for their subsequent career paths. Skilled in mixed methods, he is currently a visiting scholar with the Yankelovich Center for Social Science at UCSD and on the sociology faculty at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Daniel is in the process of building a tutoring website to help sociology undergraduates who struggle with their methods and theory courses (www.methodsmentor.com).
Michael Gibson-Light (University of Arizona, 2019)
Michael Gibson-Light is a scholar of work, punishment, and culture specializing in the study of prison labor and ethnographic methods. His dissertation, entitled “Punishment & Capital: Prison Labor & the Reproduction of Inequality in the Contemporary American Prison,” examines the role of prison labor in shaping social inequality along class, racial, and ethnic lines. To do so, it draws on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork within a medium security, men’s state prison, and 82 in-depth interviews with prisoners and staff. Through the institution of penal labor, which is often mandatory and is performed by most able U.S. prisoners, the prison acts as a sieve, sorting the incarcerated into different labor tracks based on their skills, resources, and characteristics. Certain prisoner groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, foreign nationals, and those lacking valued forms of cultural and social capital or marketable work skills, face significant hurdles to securing meaningful prison work, impacting their resources within prison and their prospects for release. Findings from this dissertation research have been published in Research in the Sociology of Work and Qualitative Sociology, and have been covered in USA Today, Atlantic, BBC, The Guardian, Time, Washington Post, NPR, and over 100 other news outlets internationally.
Dissertation Committee: Jeffrey Sallaz (chair), Phillip Goodman, Ron Breiger, Jennifer Carlson, and Kathleen Schwartzman
Jonathan Horowitz (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, 2017)
I am pursuing three lines of research that answer the following question: How do education processes and other changes in young adulthood shape inequality and politics? In my first area of research, I examine how the effects of education on individual outcomes have changed as the higher education system expanded. Second, I study how life course events—such as births, job changes, and degree completion—are related to migration, and how migration during life course events affect political, socioeconomic, and psychosocial outcomes. Finally, I am investigating the experiences of college activists in the years following graduation. This study is based on original data that I collected for my dissertation as a mixed-methods, longitudinal, multi-campus study following 192 college activists over a period of five years.
My research has appeared in the American Sociological Review (forthcoming), Social Forces, Sociology of Education, Sociological Forum, and Socius. I have also been honored with Best Graduate Student Paper Awards from the Collective Behavior and Social Movements and the Aging and Life Course sections of the American Sociological Association. Additionally, I received the Everett K. Wilson Award, honoring the most outstanding graduate instructor at UNC’s sociology department.
Winnie Jiang (Yale School of Management, 2019)
Winnie Jiang’s dissertation, titled The Meaning of Work in Challenging Contexts, consists of three papers, each employing a longitudinal field study, that examine how individuals negotiate different challenges in their pursuit of meaningful work. The first paper of her dissertation examines how individuals, especially those with callings, navigate the decline of their occupation. She studies this question using a longitudinal qualitative interview study of newspaper journalists and finds that individuals’ career trajectories in the midst of occupational decline are shaped by the meaning they derive from their occupation and whether they perceive the work components of their occupation to be fixed or flexible. The second paper builds and tests theory on how individuals pursue their callings in a longitudinal mixed-method study of MBA students. This study investigates the factors that encourage or discourage MBA students from entering work that they perceive as their calling. Findings suggest that individuals who intend to pursue their calling are derailed from calling paths as their levels of grit, perceived social support, and inclination to make social comparisons reshape their career choices. The third paper from her dissertation examines how employees sustain themselves in meaningful work when facing immense work demands. In a longitudinal mixed-method study of refugee resettlement employees, she finds that highly demanding work compels employees to change how they execute and interpret the meaning of their work, changes that fail to facilitate refugees’ transitions. Winnie’s dissertation deepens our understanding of the meaning of work and has clear theoretical implications for research on individual careers, occupations, and organizational management.
Ethel L. Mickey (Northeastern University, 2018)
Visiting Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Wellesley College (starting September 2018)
Ethel Mickey’s dissertation, Networks of Exclusion in a Gendered Organization in the High-Tech Industry, explores the everyday, gendered practices of networking through a qualitative case study of an American high-tech organization. As part of the reinvigorated #MeToo movement against sexual harassment following the 2016 US presidential election, a wave of high-profile complaints of sexism have surfaced against prominent technology companies including Google and Uber. Efforts to advance women in knowledge-based industries regularly focus on networking, evidenced by the plethora of support programs designed to help women overcome powerful, male-dominated networks commonly referred to as “old boys’ clubs.” She argues that networks and practices of networking inadvertently reproduce intersectional inequalities in organizations in the new economy, characterized by intensified precarity and workplace transformations. Networking interactions reproduce exclusionary mechanisms such as implicit bias and stereotypes, creating symbolic boundaries that limit opportunities for women and minorities. An organizational framework reveals how company features, including its gendered segregation and masculine culture of engineering, constrain women’s relationships with influential organizational actors. The project contributes to gendered organizations theory, feminist studies of technology, and social network theory by examining the interplay between individual agency and organizational structures.
Selected publications and/or awards:
- Mickey, Ethel L. 2018. “‘Eat, Pray, Love Bullshit’: Women’s Empowerment through Wellness at an Elite Professional Conference.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.
- 2018 Best Student Paper Award Co-Winner,CITAMS Section of the American Sociological Association, “Doing Gender, Doing Networks: Exploring Individual Networking Strategies in High-Tech.”
- Blum, Linda M. and Ethel L. Mickey. In press. “Women Organized Against Sexual Harassment: A Grassroots Struggle for Title IX Enforcement, 1978-1980.” Feminist Formations 30(2). (Summer 2018)
- Mickey, Ethel L.and Adia Harvey Wingfield, editors. “Identity, Race, and Work,” Research in the Sociology of Work, volume 32. Bingley, UK: Emerald. (December 2018)
- 2017 Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Office of the Provost, Northeastern University
Tim Rosenkranz (The New School for Social Research, 2018)
Tim Rosenkranz’ dissertation analyzes the global commodification process of national culture through the case study of national destination marketing in tourism. He specifically examines the relations, practices, and transactions of market valuation and cultural production in local professional fields of marketing, journalism and travel industry. His study therefore focuses on the production and imagination of the nation through extra-national actors situated in global markets. Tim explores this commodification process through a global ethnography of national destination marketing taking place in India and the USA as source-markets, i.e. the places where potential tourists come from. These source-markets are crucial sites in the global commodification process of national destination marketing because here the tourist’s expectations and decisions of where to go are formed. To reach these tourists most nation-states today have created official marketing organizations, the National Tourist Offices (NTOs) to manage their image production in such source-markets. He shows that while national differentiation itself has become of value in global competition, its production shifts from the territorial nation-state to the boundaries of the nation-state’s global organization. Tim finds that the relations and practices of this production present a complex interplay of global organization and standardization; and of localized production and evaluation. Instead of thinking of market environments as external global forces, his dissertation therefore proposes that the imagination of nations as commodities constitutes new, expanded social, economic and cultural relations of the nation-state within global markets.
Jessica J. Santana (Stanford University, 2019)
Dissertation Title: “Embracing Failure: How Failure Rhetoric and the Peer Network Influence Entrepreneurial Success”
Failure is the most likely outcome for a new venture. Yet failure, even in Silicon Valley, is penalized. To continue as entrepreneurs, founders must successfully navigate the tension between sensemaking and stigma that follows failure. Jessica’s dissertation explores how founders do this using failure narratives and peer networks. She takes advantage of the recent phenomenon of online startup postmortems to understand how entrepreneurs talk about failure. Through a cultural analysis of these postmortems, she finds that the peer community plays a critical role in failure recovery. She uses a combination of methods, including text mining, network analysis, and interviews, to identify how entrepreneurs talk about failure and how failure talk influences economic and social outcomes. She finds that there are two dominant “failure rhetorics” that map onto distinct cultural attributes and result in different economic and social outcomes. These social outcomes can be considered peer community boundary work, and may influence who is accepted as an entrepreneur and who has access to peer social capital. Using network analysis and Reddit data, Jessica tests theories of network dynamics to explain the relationship between failure talk and peer community boundary work. Her findings indicate that failure rhetorics connect failed entrepreneurs with a subset of supportive peers who may improve the entrepreneur’s ability to recover from failure. In addition to their implications for the practice of entrepreneurship, these findings make important contributions to theories of community boundary work, entrepreneurship, and the sociology of knowledge.
Rachel Skaggs (Vanderbilt University, 2018)
How do individuals enact careers within our increasingly precarious economic system? Examining workers in artistic careers can bring insight into this question, given their history of precarity and non-traditional employment. As analyzing artistic careers in aggregate is more difficult than simply mapping a corporate chain of command, Rachel developed a novel method, the “network-based sampling frame,” that uses social network data to account for structural biases in snowball sampling and to examine the ways individuals enact careers when opportunity is concentrated in social space rather than within a bureaucratic organization. Her sampling frame facilitated the collection of novel quantitative data from 1197 songs written by 941 songwriters, social network data mapping the 2927 co-writing ties that created these songs, and 38 in-depth interviews with songwriters and recording artists who wrote these songs. She uses this data to examine the re-patterning of cooperation between songwriters and recording artists from 2000-2015. Rachel finds strong evidence as to how political economic shifts in the music industry at the turn of the millennium led to the restructuring of songwriting careers, which ultimately led to reduced chances for success without being socially tied to other successful songwriters. The changing nature of collaboration between songwriters and recording artists contributed to decreased songwriter agency in the writing room and a more homogenous cultural product, as the influence of recording artists’ personal branding goals influenced the songwriting process. Her study deeply engages with Becker’s theory of patterned cooperation, which, while cited thousands of times, generally is used to justify intra-occupational study into non-superstar occupations rather than examining inter-occupational patterns of cooperation within an art world. Rachel call afor more research into a “networked post-bureaucracy” that incorporates social networks as the structural basis for systematic analysis of careers that are increasingly temporary, part time, project-based, or otherwise casualized.
Megan Tobias Neely (Postdoctoral Fellow, Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University)
Why are the upper echelons of business dominated by a “boys’ club”? This question drives Megan Tobias Neely’s recent study of the hedge fund industry. Now a postdoctoral fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, Megan has worked in and studied the hedge fund industry for over a decade. Drawing on a unique dataset of in-depth interviews with hedge fund workers and field observations at workplaces and industry events, she finds that small firms organized around trust and loyalty allow the “boys’ club” to become established and persist over time. Her most recent paper, in the current issue of Socio-Economic Review, explores how radicalized, patrimonial networks among elite white men restrict access to the rewards of this trillion-dollar industry.
Megan’s research focuses on gender, race, and class inequality in the workplace and the labor market more broadly. Megan is currently writing a book with Ken-Hou Lin, Divested: Inequality in Financialized America (under contract with Oxford University Press), that explores how finance has widened economic inequality among workers in three spheres of American society: Wall Street, Main Street, and households. A recent paper from their research, in Social Currents, finds that high-status men, particularly white fathers, reap the benefits of financialization. In another line of research, Megan has collaborated with Christine Williams on gender, precarious work, and feminism in the new economy.
Recently, Megan has begun collecting data on technology firms as a comparative case, as both hedge funds and technology startups have unprecedented access to capital and low numbers of women and minority men in power-holding positions. Previously, Megan graduated with a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017. She served as the 2017-2018 OOW Council Student Representative. Before pursuing sociology, she worked as a research analyst at a finance firm.
Emily Truelove (MIT Sloan School of Management, 2019)
Emily Truelove is an ethnographer who studies the changing nature of work inside organizations in a digital context—particularly ones where the Web and social media are paving the way for new forms of production and consumption. For her dissertation, she conducted a 24-month ethnographic study of how “openness” presented opportunities and challenges for members of an incumbent advertising firm. Emily’s dissertation has three sections. In the first, she examines how teams inside firms can integrate the crowd into their production process. Using within-site variation in six project teams’ success, she highlights the importance of “guided mobilization” practices and shows how team structure inside a firm can facilitate mobilization and direction of the crowd outside the firm. Section two examines the challenges that individuals entering digital roles inside established firms face as they help reconfigure offerings for an “open” world; here she introduces the concept of “social stewarding.” The third section leverages rare data on 52 strategic decisions attempted by the firm’s top management team over two years to add to our understanding of the microdynamics of managing strategic paradoxes during technological discontinuities.
Emanuel Ubert (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2019)
Emanuel Ubert studies why and how organizational populations and their institutions adapt to rare external shocks. The work lies at the intersection of economic sociology, organizational theory, and (new) institutional theory. His dissertation investigates the transformation of homeowner insurance markets in response to intensifying hurricane shocks in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew heralded a new era of record hurricanes that threatened insurer survival. Homeowner insurance withdrawal from high-risk states created insurance market failures and risked slowing residential housing growth. His dissertation identifies three key processes that restored private insurance supply and market stability in these states: changes in the rules governing those markets, organizational learning by incumbent insurers, and market entry by new firms. Three empirical chapters explore these processes.
A comparative historical study explains the contrasting policy responses to similarly sized record hurricane damage in Florida and Louisiana and has been published in the Socio-Economic Review. A multilevel statistical analysis of an original panel dataset shows how incumbent insurance subsidiaries used catastrophe models to reduce subjective uncertainty, learn from their local performance, and better adapt to record hurricane shocks. Count models explain why and when insurers entered hurricane-prone markets and thereby bolster overall market resilience. Two additional projects build on his dataset and the dissertation. The first expands the analysis of homeowner insurance market adaptation to the context of intensifying wildfire damages in the continental West. The second investigate the barriers to, emergence, and scaling up of technologically and organizationally innovative solutions to insurance-related (property) market problems created by climate change.
Katherine Ann (Kate) Willyard (Texas A&M University, 2018)
Dissertation Title: “The Effects of Organizational, Community, and State Regulatory Characteristics on Texas Oil and Gas Extraction Facility Venting and Flaring Practices” (Funded by the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, SES-1702683)
Why do some organizations pollute more than others? Using a mixed methods approach, this research explores this question by analyzing variation in Texas oil and gas extraction facility (NAICS 211) venting (i.e., releasing natural gas into the atmosphere) and flaring (i.e., burning natural gas) practices. Venting and flaring is a growing concern. In Texas in 2012, 48,192 thousand cubic feet of natural gas worth $228 million was wasted through venting and flaring at oil and gas extraction facilities, emitting more pollution than Texas oil and gas refineries. A conceptual model to explain the environmental behavior of these organizations was developed using an open systems organizational theory approach. To provide historical political context, an analysis of the politics of venting and flaring in Texas from 1889-2017 was conducted. Archival information obtained through a Public Information Act request to the Texas Railroad Commission is used to show how, due to direct involvement of large oil and gas companies, policy changed to increase the legal opportunities for companies to vent or flare gas. Then, a geographic information system is created using restricted (American Community Survey), and public (Texas Railroad Commission, National Center for Charitable Statistics and Census TIGER) data to examine how community characteristics are related to extreme emissions in Texas in 2012 at the block group (n=15,771) and facility (n=126,862) level. A zero-inflated negative binomial regression model shows that low poverty, low density, and predominately Hispanic neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to venting and flaring. Finally, the effects of the internal characteristics of facilities (n=126,862), the companies that directly own them (n=4,608), and the political legal environment in which the facility is embedded on the environmental efficiency of facility operations are explored. A clustered two-part hurdle regression model shows venting and flaring practices are consistently associated with facilities with new drilling, few nearby wells, large oil production, and permitting, and operators that produce more oil. Findings suggests structural isomorphism, economic incentives, and state policy are key factors contributing to the environmental decisions of organizations. The dissertation concludes by suggesting political will be applied to enact political and economic incentives to reduce the pollution and waste caused by venting and flaring.