Elizabeth Popp Berman is currently serving on the OOW Council. Berman is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Albany, SUNY. Her current book project, Thinking Like an Economist: How Economics Became the Language of U.S. Public Policy (Princeton University Press), examines the role of economics in the development of science, antitrust and antipoverty policy in the U.S. from 1960 to 1985. Her first book, Creating the Market University: How Academic Science Became an Economic Engine (Princeton University Press, 2012) earned the OOW’s Max Weber Book Award in 2013. Below, Berman expands upon her research and teaching, as well as her thoughts on the state of the subfield. Continue reading “Meet Your Council: Elizabeth Popp Berman”
As part of our March newsletter, Benjamin Snyder comments on how ethnographers of work are responding to changes in the character of labor and employment. Snyder is the author of The Disrupted Workplace (Oxford University Press, 2016) and a Lecturer in Sociology & Social Policy at Victoria University of Wellington. He will join the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Williams College in Fall 2018.
In 2001, Stephen Barley and Gideon Kunda called upon organizational and work sociologists to revisit the field’s core concepts. Time, place, schedule, wage, job, career, employment, management, ownership, head versus hand, work versus leisure, and a host of other taken for granted ways of describing economic life under bureaucratic organizing, they argued, are increasingly obscured by new post-industrial forms. They prescribed a return to an older tradition of detailed ethnographic studies of work and workplaces to adapt to the changing times. Sit with working people. Watch what they do. Listen to what work means to them. Build new concepts. For ethnographically inclined sociologists of my generation, for whom this call was part of our introduction to the field in graduate school, this message felt like a warm welcome. Many of us took up the invitation. When I look out on the field now, almost two decades later, I get the sense that the seed Barley and Kunda planted has begun to bear fruit. Work-oriented ethnographers are deeply engaged in this much needed conceptual reconstruction.
Stories of workplace sexual harassment and assault have dominated news headlines over the past year, as investigative journalists have focused on the high-profile cases with which we are now familiar. In the spirit of Herbert Gans’ recent ASA featured essay comparing the disciplines of journalism and sociology, we asked several journalists and sociologists how they approach this pertinent topic and whether and how closer ties might be mutually beneficial.
Read below to see about how sociologist, Christopher Uggen, and journalists, Gayle Golden and Vicki Michaelis, navigate these challenges, what they feel is being left out of public conversation, and what they hope results from the current public discourse.
We asked a handful of scholars what they’re reading these days. Pick up one of these great works while enjoying a “break” between semesters!
1) Where did your interests in organizations, occupations, and work originate? How have you found concepts and theories from this scholarship useful in your work?
Josh Seim: I’m broadly interested in how the poor are processed, regulated, or “governed” across a number of institutions. My first research project brought me into a penitentiary in Oregon where I was set on explicating the aspirations and actions of soon-to-be-released prisoners. There, I quickly realized that I would need to account for the internal organization of the facility if I hoped to make sense of what previous scholars described as a “perplexing optimism” among prisoners approaching the gate. I drew on the Gresham Sykes’ Society of Captives, Donald Clemmer’s The Prison Community, and other texts to examine my interview transcripts and field notes. While these books are not usually claimed by organizational sociology, they motivated me to consider how penal domination, a basic organizational feature of the prison, shaped inmate subjectivity.
Lisa Cohen is currently serving on the OOW Section Council. Cohen is an associate professor of organizational behavior at Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University. She was previously a faculty member at the London Business School, the Yale School of Management and the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Irvine. Prior to her academic career, Cohen was Principal Consultant at Terranova Consulting Group/Right Management Consultants, a human resource and management consulting firm. She earned her MBA from Fuqua School of Business, Duke University and her PhD from the Walter A. Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.
Professor Cohen’s current research focuses on questions about how tasks are bundled into jobs and jobs bundled into organizations: how and why do jobs and organizations look the way they do, how do they change, and how do they influence organizational success? Most recently she has examined these issues in startups. Her most recent paper, forthcoming in Academy of Management Journal, looks at the fit between top management jobs and experience and how these interact with firm development in technology startups. She has additional projects examining hiring and unusualness in the top management structure of startups. She has published in Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, and Organization Science.
Below, Cohen discusses her research motivations, career trajectory and future research.
Taekjin Shin is currently serving on the OOW Section Council. Shin is an Assistant Professor in the College of Business Administration at San Diego State University (SDSU). Before joining SDSU, Shin was an Assistant Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his Ph.D in sociology in 2008 from the University of California at Berkeley.
Shin’s research interests concern corporate governance, executive compensation, wage inequality, organizational sociology, and economic sociology. He is currently studying the institutional explanation for the rise of executive compensation and the symbolic effect of shareholder-value orientation on the career outcomes of executive managers. Below, Shin expands upon his research and his professional experiences for the newsletter.