Member Publication: Sounds like meritocracy to my ears: exploring the link between inequality in popular music and personal culture

Check out this new publication my OOW members Luca Carbone and Jonathan Mijs:


Extant research documents the impact of meritocratic narratives in news media that justify economic inequality. This paper inductively explores whether popular music is a source of cultural frames about inequality. We construct an original dataset combining user data from Spotify with lyrics from Genius and employ unsupervised computational text analysis to classify the content of the 3,660 most popular songs across 23 European countries. Drawing on Lizardo’s enculturation framework, we analyze lyrics through the lens of public culture and explore their link with individual beliefs as a reflection of personal culture. We find that, in more unequal societies, songs that frame inequalities as a structural issue (lyrics about ‘Struggle’ or omnipresent ‘Risks’) are more popular than those adopting a meritocratic frame (songs we describe as ‘Bragging Rights’ or those telling a ‘Rags to Riches’ tale). Moreover, we find that the presence in public culture of a certain frame is associated with the expression of frame-consistent individual beliefs about inequality. We conclude by reflecting on the promise of automatic text classification for the study of lyrics, the theorized role of popular music in the study of culture, and by proposing venues for future research.

CITATION: Luca Carbone & Jonathan Mijs (2022) Sounds like meritocracy to my ears: exploring the link between inequality in popular music and personal culture, Information, Communication & Society, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2021.2020870

Member Publication: The Role of Discernment and Modulation in Enacting Occupational Values: How Career Advising Professionals Navigate Tensions with Clients

Hi OOW Members! Check out this new publication from OOW Member Professor Curtis K. Chan and Ph.D. student Luke Hedden:

Citation: Chan, Curtis K. and Luke N. Hedden. 2021. “The Role of Discernment and Modulation in Enacting Occupational Values: How Career Advising Professionals Navigate Tensions with Clients.” Academy of Management Journal

Abstract: Enacting occupational values is vitally important to expert professionals’ solidarity and sense of purpose. Yet, many professionals face audiences in their relational contexts—especially powerful clients—who can hold incongruent values and may threaten professionals’ jurisdictional control. How can experts enact their values without jeopardizing their jurisdictional control amidst clients holding incongruent values? We examine career advisers in undergraduate business schools, whose occupational values often contrasted with values common among their student clients. Through an ethnography of one school’s career advisers, combined with interviews of such advisers throughout the U.S., we find that advisers navigated interactions by discerning student values and accordingly modulating their value-enactment practices through masking, moderating, or magnifying their values. This allowed advisers to uphold their jurisdictional control when facing students exhibiting incongruent values, while enacting their values with students exhibiting unclear or congruent values. We contribute to the relational perspective on occupations and professions by positing how discernment and modulation help experts navigate relational tensions by recognizing and drawing on intra-clientele heterogeneity, unpacking how professionals might not entirely resist or change amidst incongruence but instead pursue a more mixed approach, and highlighting when and how experts mask or moderate rather than overtly enact their values.

Member Publication: Status–Authority Asymmetry between Professions: The Case of 911 Dispatchers and Police Officers

Hi OOW Members! Check out this new publication from OOW Member Arvind Karunakaran:


Karunakaran, Arvind. “Status–Authority Asymmetry between Professions: The Case of 911 Dispatchers and Police Officers.” Administrative Science Quarterly, November 15, 2021, 000183922110595.


Status–authority asymmetry in the workplace emerges when lower-status professionals are ascribed with the functional authority to oversee higher-status professionals and elicit compliance from them on specific processes or tasks. Eliciting such compliance is ridden with challenges. How and when can lower-status professionals with functional authority elicit compliance from higher-status professionals? To examine this question, I conducted a 24-month ethnography of 911 emergency coordination to understand how 911 dispatchers (lower-status professionals with functional authority) can elicit compliance from police officers (higher-status professionals). I identify a set of relational styles—entailing interactional practices and communication media—enacted by the dispatchers. My findings suggest that dispatchers whose relational styles involved customizing the workflow via private communications with police officers or privately escalating cases of officers’ noncompliance to supervisors did not elicit greater compliance. In contrast, dispatchers who did elicit compliance used a peer publicizing relational style: they shared news of the noncompliant behavior—generally in a bantering, humorous manner—with an officer’s immediate peers using a communication medium that all officers in the police unit could hear. Publicizing noncompliant behavior among the immediate peers triggered the officer to self-discipline, as that noncompliant officer’s trustworthiness was on the line in front of the peer group. More generally, through enrolling an alter’s peers in the compliance process, the lower-status professionals with functional authority could generate second-degree influence and elicit compliance from the higher-status professionals.

Member Publication: Church Planters: Inside The World of Religion Entrepreneurs

Hi OOW Members! Check out this new book by OOW member and Professor Richard N. Pitt:


Richard N. Pitt, University of California San Diego, Church Planters: Inside The World of Religion Entrepreneurs (Oxford University Press, 2021).


Starting a new organization is risky business. And churches are no exception. Many new Protestant churches are established without denominational support and, therefore, have many of the same vulnerabilities other startups must overcome. Millions of Americans are leaving churches, half of all churches do not add any new members, and thousands of churches shutter their doors each year. These numbers suggest that American religion is not a growth industry. On the other hand, more than 1000 new churches are started in any given year. What moves people who might otherwise be satisfied working for churches to take on the riskier role of starting one? In Church Planters, sociologist Richard Pitt uses more than 125 in-depth interviews with church planters to understand their motivations.

Pitt’s work endeavors to uncover themes in their sometimes miraculous, sometimes mundane answers to the question: “why take on these risks?” He examines how they approach common entrepreneurial challenges in ways that reduce uncertainty and lead them to believe they will be successful. By combining the evocative stories of church planters with insights from research on commercial and social entrepreneurship, Pitt explains how these religion entrepreneurs come to believe their organizational goals must be accomplished, that they can be accomplished, and that they will be accomplished.

Member Publication: What’s in an Occupation? Investigating Within-Occupation Variation and Gender Segregation Using Job Titles and Task Descriptions

Check out this new article by OOW member Ananda Martin-Caughey:

Citation: Martin-Caughey A. What’s in an Occupation? Investigating Within-Occupation Variation and Gender Segregation Using Job Titles and Task Descriptions. American Sociological Review. 2021;86(5):960-999. doi:10.1177/00031224211042053


Occupations have long been central to the study of inequality and mobility. However, the occupational categories typical in most U.S. survey data conceal potentially important patterns within occupations. This project uses a novel data source that has not previously been released for analysis: the verbatim text responses provided by respondents to the General Social Survey from 1972 to 2018 when asked about their occupation. These text data allow for an investigation of variation within occupations, in terms of job titles and task descriptions, and the occupation-level factors associated with this variation. I construct an index of occupational similarity based on the average pairwise cosine similarity between job titles and between task descriptions within occupations. Findings indicate substantial variation in the level of similarity across occupations. Occupational prestige, education, and income are associated with less heterogeneity in terms of job titles but slightly more heterogeneity in terms of task descriptions. Gender diversity is associated with more internal heterogeneity in terms of both job titles and task descriptions. In addition, I use the case of gender segregation to demonstrate how occupational categories can conceal the depth and form of stratification.

Member Publication: Challenges to Academic Freedom

Check out this book by OOW Member Joseph C. Hermanowicz:


Joseph C. Hermanowicz (Ed.), Challenges to Academic Freedom, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021.

Book Summary:

Academic freedom may be threatened like never before. Yet confusion endures about what professors have a defensible right to say or publish, particularly in extramural forums like social media. At least one source of the confusion in the United States is the way in which academic freedom is often intertwined with a constitutional freedom of speech. Though related, the freedoms are distinct.

In Challenges to Academic Freedom, Joseph C. Hermanowicz argues that, contrary to many historical views, academic freedom is not static. Rather, we may view academic freedom as a set of relational practices that change over time and place. Bringing together scholars from a wide range of fields, this volume examines the current conditions, as well as recent developments, of academic freedom in the United States.

• the sources of recurring threat to academic freedom;
• administrative interference and overreach;
• the effects of administrative law on academic work, carried out under the auspices of Title IX legislation, diversity and inclusion offices, research misconduct tribunals, and institutional review boards;
• the tenuous tie between academic freedom and the law, and what to do about it;
• the highly contested arena of extramural speech and social media; and
• academic freedom in a contingent academy.

Adopting varied epistemological bases to engage their subject matter, the contributors demonstrate perspectives that are, by turn, case study analyses, historical, legal-analytic, formal-empirical, and policy oriented. Traversing such conceptual range, Challenges to Academic Freedom demonstrates the imperative of academic freedom to producing outstanding scholarly work amid the concept’s entanglements in the twenty-first century.

Member Publication: Shaping Science: Organizations, Decisions, and Culture on NASA’s Teams

Check out this new book by OOW member Janet Vertesi:

Shaping Science: Organizations, Decisions, and Culture on NASA’s Teams

In Shaping Science, Janet Vertesi draws on a decade of immersive ethnography with NASA’s robotic spacecraft teams to craft a comparative account of two great space missions of the early 2000s. Although these missions featured robotic explorers on the frontiers of the solar system bravely investigating new worlds, their commands were issued from millions of miles away by a large, very human team. Examining the two teams’ formal structures, decision-making techniques, and informal work practices in the day-to-day process of mission planning, Vertesi shows just how deeply entangled a team’s local organizational context is with the knowledge they produce about other worlds, and about each other.
Using extensive, embedded experiences on two NASA spacecraft teams, this is the first book to apply organizational studies of work to the laboratory environment in order to analyze the production of scientific knowledge itself. Engaging and deeply researched, Shaping Science demonstrates the significant influence that the social organization of a scientific team can have on the practices of that team and the results they yield.

Member Publication: Revaluing Work(ers): Toward a Democratic and Sustainable Future. 

New Book:

Schulze-Cleven, Tobias and Todd E. Vachon (Eds). 2021. Revaluing Work(ers): Toward a Democratic and Sustainable Future. New York, NY: Cornell University Press. 

Book Description:
How can we build a future of work that meets pressing challenges and delivers for workers? Contemporary societies are beset by interrelated ecological, political, and economic crises, from climate change to democratic erosion and economic instability. Uncertainty abounds about the sustainability of democratic capitalism. Yet mainstream debates on the evolution of work tend to remain narrowly circumscribed, exhibiting both technological and market determinism.

This volume presents a labor studies perspective on the future of work, arguing that revaluing work—the efforts and contributions of workers—is crucial to realizing the promises of democracy and improving sustainability. It emphasizes that collective political action, and the collective agency of workers in particular, is central to driving this agenda forward. Moreover, it maintains that reproductive work—labor efforts from care to education that sustain the reproduction of society—can function as a crucible of innovation for the valuation and governance of work more broadly.

Book Cover Image at Publisher Webpage:

Member Publication: Recovering “Lay Ignorance” in the Stanford Financial Group Ponzi Scheme

Please check out this publication by OOW member Camilo Arturo Leslie:

Camilo Arturo Leslie, Recovering “Lay Ignorance” in the Stanford Financial Group Ponzi Scheme, Social Forces, 2021;, soab054,


The Stanford Financial Group’s 2009 collapse devastated more than 20,000 depositors across the Americas. News stories portrayed the $7.2 billion fraud as an elaborate production of ignorance, and its middle-class marks as silent dupes. Media accounts thus differed little from dominant schools of ignorance scholarship, which have emphasized how powerful organizations use their expertise to foist ignorance on passive publics. However, the notion that laypeople are voiceless in such processes is empirically and theoretically untenable. Drawing on interviews with 103 defrauded Stanford clients in the US and Venezuela, this article shows that laypeople play an active interpretive and storytelling role in producing “lay ignorance” in the course of transacting with institutions, personnel, technologies, or products they lack the means to comprehend. Repurposing the concept of “jurisdiction,” I frame “layperson” as a role marked by its distance from the forms of authority that comprise expertise. As my comparison of US and Venezuelan investors reveals, laypeople nonetheless stitch surrogate forms of normative and epistemic authority from inapposite sources to produce their “lay ignorance.” The resulting accounts, I demonstrate, draw opportunistically from laypeople’s institutional, cultural, and political contexts.

Member Publication: Pre-Automation: Insourcing and Automating the Gig Economy (+ public qualitative data set)

Please check out this publication and its public qualitative data set from some OOW members:

Vertesi, J. A., Goldstein, A., Enriquez, D., Liu, L., & Miller, K. T. (2020). Pre-Automation: Insourcing and Automating the Gig Economy. Sociologica14(3), 167–193.


This paper examines a strategic configuration in the technology, logistics, and robotics industries that we call “pre-automation”: when emerging platform monopolies employ large, outsourced labor forces while simultaneously investing in developing the tools to replace these workers with in-house machines of their own design. In line with socioeconomic studies of imagined futures, we elaborate pre-automation as a strategic investment associated with a firm’s ambitions for platform monopoly, and consider Uber, Amazon Flex and Amazon Delivery Services Partnership Program drivers as paradigmatic cases. We attempt detection of firms’ pre-automation strategies through analysis of patenting, hiring, funding and acquisition activity and highlight features of certain forms of gig work that lay the infrastructural foundations for future automation. We argue that certain forms of platform labor may be viewed dynamically as an intermediate arrangement that stages outsourced tasks for subsequent insourcing through automated technologies, and discuss the implications of this configuration for existing theories of outsourcing and technology-driven job displacement.

PUBLIC DATA: Diana Enriquez recently made the qualitative data from this study public for use here on Princeton’s Open Data project.