Member Publication: Work and Technological Change

Please check out the recent publication by OOW member Stephen R. Barley.

Barley, Stephen R. 2020. Work and Technological Change. Oxford University Press.

Here is a short description of the book:

In recent years a growing number of commentators have declared that we are at the beginning of a technical revolution that will see profound changes in the way we live and work. Yet what constitutes a technological revolution, and what logic supports how successive technological revolutions have unfolded in Western societies? How do technologies change organizations and what are the implications of intelligent technologies for work and employment?

Here, Stephen R. Barley reflects on over three decades of research to explore both the history of technological change and the approaches used to investigate how technologies are shaping our work and organizations. He begins by placing current developments in artificial intelligence into the historical context of previous technological revolutions, drawing on William Faunce’s argument that the history of technology is one of progressive automation of the four components of any production system: energy, transformation, transfer, and control technologies. He then considers how technologies change work, and when those changes will and will not result in organizational change. In doing so he lays out a role-based theory of how technologies produce changes in organizations. He then tackles the issue, alongside Matt Beane, of how to conceptualize a more thorough approach to assessing how intelligent technologies, such as artificial intelligence, can shape work and employment. They identify the main reasons why the current state of research on intelligent technologies in the workplace is inadequate, and provide pointers on how empirical studies in this area may, and must, be improved. He concludes with a discussion with his long-time colleague Diane Bailey about the fears that arise when one sets out to study technical work and technical workers, and the methods that they, and future ethnographers, can use for controlling those fears.

You can find more about the book and buy it on the Oxford University Press website.


Organizations, Occupations & Work

Discussions with OOW Researchers Working in
Government · Policy · Think Tanks · Research · Industry

Wednesday, February 10, 1:30-5:00 pm Eastern Time

PANEL I – 1:30-2:30pm

Leslie Hinkson (PhD Princeton University), The League of Conservation Voters
Steve Nuñez (PhD Stanford University), Jain Family Institute
Shelly Steward (PhD UC-Berkeley), Aspen Institute
Lindsay Owens (PhD Stanford University), Groundwork Collaborative

PANEL II – 2:45-3:45pm

George Hobor (PhD University of Arizona), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Caren Arbeit (PhD University of Minnesota), RTI International
Chris Bourg (PhD Stanford University), Director of Libraries MIT

PANEL III – 4:00-5:00pm

Susan Biancani (PhD Stanford University), Airbnb
Tina Park (PhD Brown University), Partnership on AI
Rachael Ferguson (PhD Princeton University),
Phaedra Daipha (PhD University of Chicago), Allstate

Awards: ASA Science, Knowledge and Technology (SKAT) Section Awards in the Spirit of Anti-Racism

Two new awards from the ASA Science, Knowledge and Technology (SKAT) section in the spirit of anti-racism—the Ida B. Wells-Troy Duster award and the Emancipatory Practice in SKAT award. Link for information:

These awards welcome nominations and self-nominations of BIPOC scholars who are not currently members of the SKAT section (the prizes come with section membership if the winner is not currently a member).

Call for Papers: Special Issue of the Journal of Professions and Organization

Special Issue of the Journal of Professions and Organization: Diversity and Inclusion in Changing Professional Organizations

Swethaa Ballakrishnen, University of California, Irvine
David Brock, Ben-Gurion University
Elizabeth Gorman, University of Virginia

Contemporary scholars have shed considerable light on processes of gender, racial-ethnic, and social class inequality in traditional professional organizations. Yet much has happened over the past two or three decades to reshape contexts for professional services, as well as the kinds of individuals who populate them. Alongside older organizational forms, there have been shifts to institutionalize new kinds of work resulting in larger and more bureaucratic organizational logics across professional fields. Many have established different kinds of transnational presences with continuing implications for the interrelated relationships between the local and the global across sites. Liberalized regulatory structures in many countries permit new organizational structures and forms of ownership. Artificial intelligence and information technology have replaced and transformed the work that professionals once have done and/or need to do much longer. New occupations that lack longstanding professional traditions, such as data scientists and project managers, are now providing “professional” knowledge-based services. These structural changes have, in turn, had important effects on individual capacities, outcomes, and experiences. At the broadest levels, inequality in income, status, and autonomy within professions has grown. At the same time, there have been new kinds of inequities buttressed as progress, and new rewards to interactional capital. The demographics of the kinds of individuals who seek (and are sought within) these professional milieus are changing, strategic corporate investments as they relate to global social movements have begun to offer new kinds of opportunities, and these changes have resulted in corresponding changes within professional experiences and environments.

What do these myriad changes and movements across different levels of analysis mean for gender, racial ethnic, class, and other forms of difference and inequality in professional organizations? At the individual level, do the same mechanisms of bias and exclusion previously identified in traditional professional service firms—such as stereotyping and preference for social similarity—continue to affect career outcomes as before? Do these changes have different implications for different demographic groups, or in different geographic sites? What career strategies do individual professionals utilize as they seek to navigate these changing waters? At the organizational level, what practices and structures promote or hinder diversity and inclusion? How have professional organizations sought to manage their increasing diversity? Which deliberate interventions are most effective, and which conflict with other organizational practices and goals? How, if at all, have clients influenced professional organizations’ efforts with respect to diversity and inclusion?

To address these and related questions, we invite scholarly papers from a wide range of disciplines and academic perspectives. We welcome submissions that address different levels of analysis (individual, firm, interactional, field) and make use of a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods. We especially encourage authors who investigate new forms of inequality, new managerial and organizational approaches to diversity and inclusion, and research on sites that are transnational, comparative, and/or global. If you have questions about whether you project might be a fit, please reach out to one or more of the guest editors (,,

Deadline for full papers: June 15, 2021 Submit via:

For more information about Journal of Professions and Organization see

Call for Papers: ISA Conference: Work of the Future Redux: Technology, Innovation Policy

The deadline to submit to the ISA conference (June 2-4), Work of the Future Redux: Technology, Innovation Policy is coming up on Friday, January 22nd.  

Please submit your paper or panel proposal here. See a list of conference tracks here. 

You can also renew your annual membership here. Memberships are critical to the financial health of the ISA and are greatly appreciated! 

Now, more than ever, communities like the ISA are important for fostering connection, collaboration, knowledge sharing and professional networks. Please submit a proposal and join us in June! 

All the best, 

Liz Reynolds
ISA Program Chair, 2021

Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Proposals for paper and panel submissions are due Friday, January 22nd. See link for details. Those who submitted papers or panels for last year’s conference are encouraged to submit their updated proposals this year. 

ISA 2021 Call for Papers

Submit Your Paper Proposal Here

Submit Your Panel Proposal Here

Registration opens in early 2021

Visit our

Member Publication: The Career Conveyor Belt: How Internships Contribute to Early Career Inequality Among College Graduates

Please check out the recent publication by OOW member Corey Moss-Pech.

Moss-Pech, Corey. 2020. “The Career Conveyor Belt: How Internships Contribute to Early Career Inequality Among College Graduates,” Qualitative Sociology, Online First.


Progressing quickly from school to work is an indicator of early career success for college graduates. Recent research shows that inter-institutional connections between elite universities and prestigious employers easily move students at these schools into a select few firms. Prior research has yet to fully address whether students at non-elite colleges have differential access to connections between their colleges and potential employers. Drawing on 176 longitudinal interviews with students across four majors, I track 91 seniors who have all completed internships as they graduate and enter the labor market. In doing so, I document the inter-institutional connections through which employers recruit some students for internships that often lead directly to permanent employment opportunities, a process I call the career conveyor belt. Career conveyor belt internships have procedures in place to hire some, or all, of their interns immediately following graduation. Students that must find their own internships rarely end up in career conveyor belt internships, and they often spend 3–6 months job-searching after school ends before finding full-time work. Analysis reveals that college major plays a critical role in determining which students access career conveyor belt internships. These findings suggest students’ differential access to inter-institutional connections between schools and employers produce unequal labor market outcomes between college graduates by major.

Member Publication: How to Sell a Friend: Disinterest as Relational Work in Direct Sales

Please check out the recent publication by OOW member Curtis Child:

Child, Curtis. 2021. “How to Sell a Friend: Disinterest as Relational Work in Direct Sales.” Sociological Science 8: 1-25.


Economic sociologists agree that monetary transactions are not necessarily antithetical to meaningful social relationships. However, they also accept that creating “good matches” between the two requires hard work. In this article, I contribute to the relational program in economic sociology by examining a common but understudied type of work in which one party to a relationship stands to benefit from it financially. I identify in these highly commercialized contexts a particular style of relational work anticipated, but not fully developed, in Pierre Bourdieu’s writings: disinterest. I argue that the disinterested style is manifest by economically implicated individuals who downplay their objectively apparent economic interests in order to preserve or encourage good feelings about a relationship that is meaningful to them. Drawing upon data from the direct selling industry, I show how distributors use disinterest to navigate their work.

Call for Papers: Issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

Issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences on:


Edited by
Steven Raphael, University of California, Berkeley
Daniel Schneider, Harvard Kennedy School

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare and exacerbated many of the structural inequalities in the United States. Within a few months of the first documented community transmission, nearly one quarter of the workforce filed for unemployment benefits, with low-income workers and those with less flexibility in scheduling and the ability to work remotely disproportionately experiencing job loss. Meanwhile, workers deemed essential, from health care providers, to supermarket employees, to delivery workers, bore the brunt of exposure to infection while others sheltered in place under state and local orders. These unequal labor market experiences may have exacerbated existing inequalities in material hardship, household economic insecurity, and poverty, but the impacts of the pandemic may have also exposed previously economically secure groups to insecurity. Together, the labor market shocks of COVID-19 combined with the disruption to childcare and K-12 schooling have likely also altered the amount and division of household labor with respect to housework and care-work. Such dynamics may have affected gender inequalities in labor market persistence and re-entry.

We know that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted institutionalized and marginalized populations who are resource poor and, in some instances, politically disenfranchised. African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented among documented Covid-19 cases and fatalities, due in part to pre-existing disparities in health problems, differential access to health care, and differential exposure to essential work. Many of the largest outbreaks have occurred in institutionalized settings, such as nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, state and federal prisons, and local jails. The pandemic has hit Native American communities particularly hard, as they tend to be located in rural areas with poor access to sufficient health services.

For this issue of RSF, we invite original research contributions pertaining to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on socioeconomic inequality in the United States and in particular how pre-existing inequalities may have mediated the impact of the pandemic and in turn been exacerbated by the current crisis. We are particularly interested in studies that focus on how institutions, ranging from the health care system, corrections and criminal justice, childcare policies, social safety net programs, and labor market policies have either mitigated or exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on social and economic outcomes as well as studies that focus on the likely longer-term impacts of the pandemic on inequality in the United States.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for articles.

Anticipated Timeline

Prospective contributors should submit a CV and an abstract (up to two pages in length, single or double spaced) of their study along with up to two pages of supporting material (e.g., tables, figures, pictures, references that don’t fit on the proposal pages, etc.) no later than 5 PM EST on March 10, 2021 to:

NOTE that if you wish to submit an abstract and do not yet have an account with us, it can take up to 48 hours to get credentials, so please start your application at least two days before the deadline. All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only abstracts submitted to will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at and not to the email addresses of the editors of the issue.

A conference will take place at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City on December 10, 2021. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due a month prior to the conference on November 12, 2021 ) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors. Travel costs, food, and lodging for one author per paper will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their revised drafts by March 6, 2022. The papers will then be sent out to three additional scholars for formal peer review. Having received feedback from reviewers and the RSF board, authors will revise their papers by September 13, 2022. The full and final issue will be published in the fall of 2023. Papers will be published open access on the RSF website as well as in several digital repositories, including JSTOR and UPCC/Muse.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for articles.

Book Event: Author Meets Readers for Doctors’ Orders

Please join us for an author-meets-reader session for UNC Sociology assistant professor, Tania Jenkins’, new book Doctors’ Orders, on Friday, February 5 from 1:00-2:30P EST.

The event will be moderated by Josh Seim (University of Southern California), with comments from Adam Reich (Columbia University), Stefan Timmermans (UCLA), and Kim Weeden (Cornell University).

RSVP to get a Zoom link at

For questions, feel free to reach out to Josh Seim (


OOW Virtual Events

The OOW section has organized three virtual events for the coming months. More details will be announced soon, but the dates and times are already set. Save the dates!

When the Job Market Gets Tough: OOW Beyond Academia. A panel discussion with OOW researchers working in government and policy jobs, think tanks and industry
Wednesday, February 10, 1:30-4:30 pm Eastern

Racism, Policing, and Incarceration:  Organizational and Occupational Perspectives. A panel discussion
Wednesday, March 3, 1:30-2:45 pm Eastern

Diverse Approaches to Race in OOW. Keynotes and a panel discussion
Wednesday, April 21, 1:30-2:45 pm Eastern