New Publication: Effort in absence: Technologically mediated aesthetic experiences of the culture industries’ routine workers

Greetings OOW members!

Today we are sharing a new publication from Michael Siciliano.

CITATION: Siciliano, Michael L. 2022. “Effort in absence: Technologically mediated aesthetic experiences of the culture industries’ routine workers.” Ethnography


In this article, I draw upon 20 months of participant observation to compare the labor processes of routine, office staff in the popular music and digital content industries in the U.S. In both cases, workers play a game of disappearing, pursuing immersive experiences in their efforts to be more productive. These pleasurably immersive experiences vis-à-vis technology described by informants bear a similarity to aesthetic experiences typically associated with art objects. Comparing how workers describe their aesthetic experiences, I show how the materiality of technology as well as management mediate workers’ immersion. In doing so, this article extends theories of control over work by highlighting the importance of work’s affective and aesthetic dimensions while also making an empirical contribution by examining the culture industries’ often overlooked, routine workers in conventional and platformized contexts.

New Publication: Deciding between Domains: How Borrowers Weigh Market and Interpersonal Options

Hi OOW members! Today we’re sharing a new article from Rourke O’Brien, Adam Hayes, and Barbara Kiviat:


O’Brien R, Hayes A, Kiviat B. Deciding between Domains: How Borrowers Weigh Market and Interpersonal Options. Social Psychology Quarterly. August 2022. doi:10.1177/01902725221108964


Individuals routinely satisfy borrowing needs by transacting in the market or by relying on social relations. In the market domain, price logic leads borrowers to choose the cheaper option; in the interpersonal domain, role-matching logic leads borrowers to choose the relation best matched to the act. But how do individuals choose when faced with options from each domain? Drawing on theories in economic sociology that assert the economic and the social are mutually constitutive, we posit that when market and interpersonal options appear in the same choice set, the characteristics of one option inflect how people assess the other. Through two survey experiments, we show that price sensitivity toward the market option is less when the interpersonal option is role mismatched and that concerns about interpersonal borrowing changing or damaging the relationship attenuate when the market option is expensive. We discuss the implications for studies of stratification and financial decision-making.

New Publication: Workplace Well-being: Shifting from an Individual to an Organizational Framework

Hi OOW Members! Today we’re sharing a new article by Annika Wilcox and Amanda Koontz:


Wilcox, Annika and Amanda Koontz. “Workplace Well-being: Shifting from an Individual to an Organizational Framework.” Sociology Compass e13035.


Well-being (or lack thereof) is one phenomena that is shaped by and has important implications for organizational (in)equalities, yet remains widely conceptualized at an individual level. Through a review of previous research on organizational inequality and diversity, we argue for a shift towards studying “workplace well-being”—well-being as created by and through work organizations. We identify and discuss three pillars of workplace well-being and consider how these pillars are constituted across three levels of analysis. We note that “workplace well-being” offers a more theoretically- and empirically-grounded framework for understanding how well-being operates in the workplace. This concept can be utilized to “check” where organizational change is needed and develop change initiatives that better support diversity, inclusivity, and equity.

The argument is summarized for a general audience in this accompanying blog post.

New Publication: Preventing Soft Skill Decay among Early-Career Women in STEM during COVID-19: Evidence from a Longitudinal Intervention

Greetings, OOW Members! Today we are sharing a new article by Julia Melin and Shelley J. Correll.

Melin, Julia L., and Shelley J. Correll. “Preventing Soft Skill Decay among Early-Career Women in STEM during COVID-19: Evidence from a Longitudinal Intervention.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119, no. 32 (August 9, 2022): e2123105119.


As the workforce shifts to being predominantly hybrid and remote, how can companies help employees—particularly early-career women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields—develop greater confidence in their soft skills, shown to improve organizational retention? We evaluate the effects of an online longitudinal intervention to develop soft skills among early-career women employees at a North American biotechnology company during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Controlling for baseline levels collected immediately prior to nationwide lockdowns, we find that a 6-month online intervention increased early-career women’s assessments of their soft skills at work by an average of 9% (P < 0.001), compared with a decrease of about 3.5% for a matched control group (P < 0.05), resulting in an average treatment effect of nearly 13% on the treated group. Furthermore, we find evidence that the intervention led to an increase in manager-assessed performance for early-career women relative to employees not in the intervention, and that overall, increased self-assessments of soft skill competencies were associated with greater odds of retention. Results show how employee soft skill development was affected by the pandemic and provide insights for a feasible and cost-effective method to train and engage a hybrid or fully remote workforce.

New Publication: Parenting Without Predictability: Precarious Schedules, Parental Strain, and Work-Life Conflict.

Hi OOW Members! We are pleased to share a new article shared with us by OOW member Sigrid Luhr:


Luhr, Sigrid, Daniel Schneider, and Kristen Harknett. “Parenting Without Predictability: Precarious Schedules, Parental Strain, and Work-Life Conflict.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 8, no. 5 (August 2022): 24–44.


Against the backdrop of dramatic changes in work and family life, this article draws on survey data from 2,971 mothers working in the service sector to examine how unpredictable schedules are associated with three dimensions of parenting: difficulty arranging childcare, work-life conflict, and parenting stress. Results demonstrate that on-call shifts, shift timing changes, work hour volatility, and short advance notice of work schedules are positively associated with difficulty arranging childcare and work-life conflict. Mothers working these schedules are more likely to miss work. We consider how family structure and race moderate the relationship between schedule instability and these dimensions of parenting. Unstable work schedules, we argue, have important consequences for mothers working in the service industry.

New Publication: Regulatory Spillover and Workplace Racial Inequality

Dear OOW members! We are delighted to share a new publication from OOW member Letian Zhang:


Zhang, Letian. “Regulatory Spillover and Workplace Racial Inequality.” Administrative Science Quarterly 67, no. 3 (September 2022): 595–629.


This article suggests that regulations targeting the U.S. public sector may influence racial inequality in the private sector. Since the 1990s, nine states have banned affirmative action practice in public universities and state governments. I theorize that although these bans have no legal jurisdiction over private-sector firms, they could influence such firms normatively. After such a ban, executives who have been skeptical of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies may feel more normative license to reduce commitment to EEO practices. Using a difference-in-differences estimation on 11,311 firms from 1985 to 2015, I find that the bans are indeed associated with slower racial progress in private-sector firms: after a state adopts the affirmative action ban, growth in the proportion of Black managers in establishments with corporate headquarters in that state slows by more than 50 percent, and this slowdown is mostly concentrated in firms with politically conservative CEOs. These findings suggest a mechanism for the persistence of racial inequality and show that regulations can influence actors well beyond legal jurisdictions.

New Publication: Class and culture in the making of an assisted living market

Hi OOW members! We’re excited to share a new article by Guillermina Altomonte:

CITATION: Guillermina Altomonte, Class and culture in the making of an assisted living market, Socio-Economic Review, 2022;, mwac034,


This article examines the growing industry of elite assisted living in Chile, which represents a break with a longstanding culture of care provided at home by family members and domestic workers. How does this market, locally associated with deprivation, abandonment and standardization, become a legitimate option for the rich clientele it caters to? Drawing on 40 interviews with consumers and providers of institutional care, I show that the market for assisted living is moralized through material and symbolic continuities with forms of class privilege that residents feel slipping away. Respondents interpret assisted living as an extension of the domestic work previously consumed in clients’ homes, they reframe care as an exclusive commodity and they highlight residents’ entitlement to bend organizational structures and retain authority over space and labor. These findings shed light on the relationship of class to processes of cultural legitimation by revealing the extent to which not only the affective meanings of ‘home’, but its social hierarchies, play a role in moralizing markets of care.

New Publication: Negotiating Racialized Organizational Spaces and Intimacies: An Ethnography of Playpen Strip Club.

Hi OOW members! Today we’re sharing a new publication from Cristina Silva, Michelle Newton-Francis and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz:

Citation: Silva, Cristina, Michelle Newton-Francis, and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. 2022. “Negotiating Racialized Organizational Spaces and Intimacies: An Ethnography of Playpen Strip Club.” Gender, Work & Organization: 1–18.


Based on 18 months of ethnographic research in a Northeast corridor strip club we call Playpen, we engage sex negotiations, erotic service exchanges, and the circulation of desire within an informal, weekly “Latina Night” event. We treat Playpen as a gendered and racialized organization in which patrons, dancers, and employees manage established, yet unspoken rules. Labor interactions and dynamics between dancers and clients are racialized when gesturing toward bodily currency – which materializes in tips, drinks, paid lap dances, and more exclusive attention; dancers compete for such currency, using their selection of music and dance, movements, adornments, body modifications and emotional labor. Selected pairings negotiate open spaces by turning pockets of the club into semi-private, intimate ones. Dancers’ and clients’ gendered and racialized notions of currency (in this case, racialized Latinidad) clash, ultimately serving the club in keeping “Latina Night” in place. 

New Publication: Diversity Initiatives in the US Workplace: A Brief History, Their Intended and Unintended Consequences

Hi OOW members! Today we’re sharing a new publication by Sandra Portocarrero and James T. Carter!


Portocarrero, Sandra, and James T. Carter. “Diversity Initiatives in the US Workplace: A Brief History, Their Intended and Unintended Consequences.” Sociology Compass, May 24, 2022.


Diversity initiatives are designed to help workers from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve equitable opportunities and outcomes in organizations. However, these programs are often ineffective. To better understand less-than-de- sired outcomes and the shifting diversity landscape, we synthesize literature on how corporate affirmative action programs became diversity initiatives and current literature on their effectiveness. We focus specifically on work deal- ing with mechanisms that make diversity initiatives effective as well as their unintended consequences. When taken together, these literature point to several inequality-specific omissions in contemporary discussions of organizational diversity initiatives, such as the omission of racial inequality. As we contend in the first section of this review, without affirmative action law, which initially tasked US employers with ending racial discrimination at the workplace, we would not have diversity initiatives. We conclude by providing directions for future research and elaborating on several core foci that scholars might pursue to better (re)connect issues of organizational diversity with the aims of equity, equality and social justice.


affirmative action, diversity initiatives, organizations, US workplace

New Publication: Practical Feelings: Emotions as Resources in a Dynamic Social World

Hi OOW Members! Today we’re sharing news about Marci Cottingham‘s new book, Practical Feelings.

SUMMARY: Tracing emotions across work, leisure, social media, and politics, Practical Feelings counters old myths and shows how emotions are practical resources for tackling individual and collective challenges.

We do not usually think of our emotions as practical — often they are nuisances to overcome, momentary mysteries to solve, or fleeting sensations to savor before getting back to the business of living. But emotions interlace the practical elements of daily life. In Practical Feelings, Marci D. Cottingham develops a theory of emotion as practical resources. By integrating the sociology of emotion with practice theory, Cottingham covers diverse areas of social life to show the range of an emotion practice approach and trace how emotions are put to use in divergent domains. Spanning work, leisure, digital interactions, and the political sphere, Cottingham portrays nurses, sports fans, social media users, and political actors in more complex, holistic ways. Practical Feelings provides the conceptual tools needed to examine emotions as effort, energy, and embodied resources that calibrate us to the social world.

You can order it online at with the promo code ASFLYQ6.