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.

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.

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 (

Book Event: Authors Meet Critics for Divested: Inequality in the Age of Finance

About the Book

Registration form

Date: Feb 26th 2021
Time: 11AM-12:30PM Central Time (UTC -6)
Location: Zoom (The link will be distributed before the event)

Katie Sobering, University of North Texas

Arne Kalleberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jake Rosenfeld, Washington University in St. Louis
Fabian Pfeffer, University of Michigan

Ken-Hou Lin, University of Texas at Austin
Megan Tobias Neely, Copenhagen Business School

Member Publication: National Living Wage Movements in a Regional World: The Fight for $15 in the United States

Please check out the recent publication by OOW member Tamara Kay:

Spicer, Jason, Robert Manduca, and Tamara Kay. 2020. “National Living Wage Movements in a Regional World: The Fight for $15 in the United States.” Labor and Employment Relations Association Annual Research Volume. In Reimagining the Governance of Work and Employment, edited by Dionne Pohler, 41–67. Labor and Employment Relations Association.

Member Publication: Industrializing an Oil‐Based Economy: Evidence From Iran’s Auto Industry

Please check out the recent publication by OOW member Masoud Movahed. 2020. “Industrializing an Oil-Based Economy: Evidence from Iran’s Auto Industry.” Journal of International Development 32 (7): 1148–70.


Two theoretical paradigms namely, the ‘resource curse’ and ‘developmental state’ wouldpredict that industrial development in countries with abundance of capital-intensive natural resourcesand in states with patrimonial tendencies is doomed to failure. Iran’s success in developing adynamic auto industry, which in 2011 became the world’s 12th largest automobile manufacturer with1.6 million vehicles produced per year seems to contradict these perspectives. How was this technicalcapacity created in an oil-based economy—which provides little incentive for industrialization—and, in a country that has been under the United States and international sanctions since 1979Revolution? In this paper, I will expand on the implications of these theoretical traditions to identifythe structural factors that enabled the Iranian state to develop a large automobile sector and relativelydiversify the economy.

Member Publication: Enacting a Rational Actor: Roboadvisors and the Algorithmic Performance of Ideal Types

Please check out the recent publication by OOW member Adam Hayes. 2020. “Enacting a Rational Actor: Roboadvisors and the Algorithmic Performance of Ideal Types.” Economy and Society. Online First.


Weber famously invoked ‘ideal types’ as an analytic device with which to measure empirical reality against some hyper-rational fabrication. Case in point: non-professional (lay) investors appear to be the antithesis of rational economic man. They have been cast as less-informed, less-skilled, and less-knowledgeable than professional market practitioners, and with ample evidence that they tend to lose money in the market as a result. This study builds the case that a new class of algorithmic financial advisor, commonly known as ‘roboadvisors’, enacts lay investors as rational market actors. This is achieved through algorithmic devotion to modern portfolio theory (MPT), which the roboadvisors embody, automate and perform, conjuring some version of homo economicus into existence. Through this example, I show how Weberian ideal types and the particular kind of rational action associated with them (e.g. the ideal type investor) become the very empirical reality they were intended to be a foil to – accomplished through the technological articulation of financial models, even in the hands of ordinary individuals.

Member Publication: The Science and Art of Interviewing

Please check out the recent publication by OOW members Kathleen Gerson and Sarah Damaske. 2020. The Science and Art of Interviewing. Oxford University Press.

Here is a short description of the book:

Qualitative interviewing is among the most widely used methods in the social sciences, but it is arguably the least understood. In The Science and Art of Interviewing, Kathleen Gerson and Sarah Damaske offer clear, theoretically informed and empirically rich strategies for conducting interview studies. They present both a rationale and guide to the science-and art-of in-depth interviewing to take readers through all the steps in the research process, from the initial stage of formulating a question to the final one of presenting the results. Gerson and Damaske show readers how to develop a research design for interviewing, decide on and find an appropriate sample, construct a questionnaire, conduct probing interviews, and analyze the data they collect. At each stage, they also provide practical tips about how to address the ever-present, but rarely discussed challenges that qualitative researchers routinely encounter, particularly emphasizing the relationship between conducting well-crafted research and building powerful social theories. With an engaging, accessible style, The Science and Art of Interviewing targets a wide range of audiences, from upper-level undergraduates and graduate methods courses to students embarking on their dissertations to seasoned researchers at all stages of their careers.

You can find more about the book and buy it on the Oxford University Press website—where you can use the promo code ASFLYQ6 for a 30% discount— or on Amazon.