Member Publications

Please check out the recent publications by OOW member Jonathan Jan Benjamin Mijs:

2020. “Earning Rent with Your Talent: Modern-Day Inequality Rests on the Power to Define, Transfer and Institutionalize Talent” Educational Philosophy and Theory (Special issue: Talents and Distributive Justice). Online First.


In this article, I develop the point that whereas talent is the basis for desert, talent itself is not meritocratically deserved. It is produced by three processes, none of which are meritocratic: (1) talent is unequally distributed by the rigged lottery of birth, (2) talent is defined in ways that favor some traits over others, and (3) the market for talent is manipulated to maximally extract advantages by those who have more of it. To see how, we require a sociological perspective on economic rent. I argue that talent is a major means through which people seek rent in modern-day capitalism. Talent today is what inherited land was to feudal societies; an unchallenged source of symbolic and economic rewards. Whereas God sanctified the aristocracy’s wealth, contemporary privilege is legitimated by meritocracy. Drawing on the work of Gary Becker, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jerome Karabel, I show how rent-seeking in modern societies has come to rely principally on rent-definition and creation. Inequality is produced by the ways in which talent is defined, institutionalized, and sustained by the moral deservingness we attribute to the accomplishments of talents. Consequently, today’s inequalities are as striking as ever, yet harder to challenge than ever before.

2020. “The paradox of inequality: income inequality and belief in meritocracy go hand in hand.” Socio-Economic Review (in press).


Inequality is on the rise: gains have been concentrated with a small elite, while most have seen their fortunes stagnate or fall. Despite what scholars and journalists consider a worrying trend, there is no evidence of growing popular concern about inequality. In fact, research suggests that citizens in unequal societies are less concerned than those in more egalitarian societies. How to make sense of this paradox? I argue that citizens’ consent to inequality is explained by their growing conviction that societal success is reflective of a meritocratic process. Drawing on 25 years of International Social Survey Program data, I show that rising inequality is legitimated by the popular belief that the income gap is meritocratically deserved: the more unequal a society, the more likely its citizens are to explain success in meritocratic terms, and the less important they deem nonmeritocratic factors such as a person’s family wealth and connections.

This research was cited in an article in the New Statesman: “research by Jonathan Mijs of the London School of Economics (LSE) shows that despite rising income inequality, this has not been accompanied by a rise in concern over inequality – this ‘inequality paradox’ is also seen in internationally comparative data that shows meritocratic beliefs are stronger in more unequal countries.”

New Publication: Special Issue of Work and Occupations: The Emotional Experience of Caregiving Work in a Changing Health Care Landscape

Please check out the new Special Issue of Work and Occupations:

The Emotional Experience of Caregiving Work in a Changing Health Care Landscape
Guest Editors: Timothy J. Vogus, Allison S. Gabriel, Laura E. McClelland

Caregiving work is cognitively, emotionally, and physically demanding. These demands become amplified in the health care sector with the highstakes consequences of the work associated with the work being done with increasing complex, elderly, and fragile patients in a system simultaneously demanding high quality, low cost care. The result has been an epidemic of burnout among caregivers with conservative estimates suggesting it affects at least half of physicians and nurses and such aversive conditions may augur a future shortage of caregivers. Using this context as backdrop, the special issue focuses explicitly on the emotional experience of caregiving work with an emphasis on helping better understand the factors that contribute to emotional exhaustion and well-being at work. In doing so, the articles in the special issue push the frontiers of leading perspectives on emotional experience in service and caregiving work including emotional labor, job demands-resources, and the service triangle.

The articles comprising the special issue advance and challenge these leading perspectives and often do so in tandem with considering the changing reality and increasing complexity and pressures of health-care work. In a study of nurses, Chang and colleagues demonstrate how nurses’ differential experiences of job demands and resources (e.g., the balance of their social support exchanges) can trigger anger that produces physical (musculoskeletal) injuries. In a rich audio diary study of nurses Cottingham and Erickson develop a more contextualized, socially embedded emotional practice approach. For instance, they capture both the complex, embodied emotional experiences of care providers and powerfully depicting how shared social position affects how and for whom emotional resources are provided. Amid the growing burnout and dissatisfaction among caregivers, Lee and colleagues counterintuitively find that job dissatisfaction may itself be a job resource that is positively associated with generating quality improvement ideas in 12 clinics. The positive effects of dissatisfaction are stronger for individuals with shorter tenure, in central (caregiving) roles, and when engaged in more boundary spanning. Finally, Kossek et al. examine the work of an underappreciated set of workers in care delivery—job schedulers. In doing so, they push the frontier of the service triangle by illustrating how the scheduler adjudicates disputes among employees, administrators and patients through various forms of patching (i.e., ongoing adjustments to address holes in scheduling) that takes the unique needs of employers, employees, and patients into consideration. Exploratory analysis also show that how the schedulers address these issues may have patient consequences in fewer pressure ulcers.

The Social Context of Caregiving Work in Health Care: Pushing Conceptual and Methodological Frontiers
Vogus, T., Gabriel, A., and McClelland, L.

Social Support Exchange and Nurses’ Musculoskeletal Injuries in a Team Context: Anger as a Mediator
Chang, C.-H., Yang, L.-Q., & Lauricella, T. K.

The Promise of Emotion Practice: At the Bedside and Beyond
Cottingham, M. & Erickson, R.

Dissatisfied Creators: Generating Creative Ideas Amid Negative Emotion in Health Care
Lee, Y. S. H., Nembhard, I. M., & Cleary, P. D.

Work Schedule Patching in Health Care: Exploring Implementation Approaches
Kossek, E. E., Rosokha, L. M., & Leana, C.

Member Publication: The Death of Idealism: Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps

Please check out the recent publication by OOW member Meghan E Kallman. 2020. The Death of Idealism: Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps. Columbia University Press.

Here is a short description of the book:

Peace Corps volunteers seem to exemplify the desire to make the world a better place. Yet despite being one of history’s clearest cases of organized idealism, the Peace Corps has, in practice, ended up cultivating very different outcomes among its volunteers. By the time they return from the Peace Corps, volunteers exhibit surprising shifts in their political and professional consciousness. Rather than developing a systemic perspective on development and poverty, they tend instead to focus on individual behavior; they see professions as the only legitimate source of political and social power. They have lost their idealism, and their convictions and beliefs have been reshaped along the way.

The Death of Idealism uses the case of the Peace Corps to explain why and how participation in a bureaucratic organization changes people’s ideals and politics. Meghan Elizabeth Kallman offers an innovative institutional analysis of the role of idealism in development organizations. She details the combination of social forces and organizational pressures that depoliticizes Peace Corps volunteers, channels their idealism toward professionalization, and leads to cynicism or disengagement. Kallman sheds light on the structural reasons for the persistent failure of development organizations and the consequences for the people involved. Based on interviews with over 140 current and returned Peace Corps volunteers, field observations, and a large-scale survey, this deeply researched, theoretically rigorous book offers a novel perspective on how people lose their idealism, and why that matters.

For further information and to purchase the book, visit Columbia University Press’ website or Amazon.

Member Publication: The differential impact of network connectedness and size on researchers’ productivity and influence

Please check out the following recent publication by OOW members Tsahi Hayat, Dimitrina Dimitrova, and Barry Wellman. 2020. “The Differential Impact of Network Connectedness and Size on Researchers’ Productivity and Influence.” Information, Communication and Society 23: 5.


We analyze the effect of different types of online and offline ties – acquaintanceship, advice, and co-authorship – on researchers’ productivity and influence. Unlike static studies of networked work, we look at how changes in these networks affected researchers’ performance and influence. Using the number of publications as an indicator of productivity and the number of citations as an indicator of influence, we investigate when researchers were more productive and influential. We study whether their networks were cohesive, if the researchers were central in their networks or linked to central players, and whether their work had more opportunities to be disseminated through diverse, non-redundant ties. Although the connectedness of their networks was positively associated with the researchers’ productivity, it was the non-redundant effective size of the networks that was positively associated with the researchers’ influence

Member Publication: Gender Flexibility, but not Equality: Young Adults’ Division of Labor Preferences

Please check out the following recent publication by OOW members Brittany N. Dernberger and Joanna R. Pepin. 2020. “Gender Flexibility, but not Equality: Young Adults’ Division of Labor Preferences.” Sociological Science 7: 36-56.


Rising acceptance of mothers’ labor force participation is often considered evidence of increased support for gender equality. This approach overlooks perceptions of appropriate behavior for men and gender dynamics within families. We use nationally representative data of 12th-grade students from Monitoring the Future surveys (1976 to 2014) to evaluate changes in youths’ preferred division of labor arrangements. Over this period, contemporary young people exhibited greater openness to a variety of division of labor scenarios for their future selves as parents, although the husband-as-earner/wife-as-homemaker arrangement remained most desired. Using latent class analysis, we identify six configurations of gender attitudes: conventionalists, neotraditionalists, conventional realists, dual earners, intensive parents, and strong intensive parents. There are no gender egalitarian configurations—exhibiting equal support for both parents’ time at work and time at home. Our findings indicate researchers must distinguish between adoption of gender egalitarian principles and gender flexibility in dividing time at work and at home.

Member Publication: Overload: How Good Jobs Went Bad and What We Can Do About It

Please check out the forthcoming publication by OOW members Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen. 2020. Overload: How Good Jobs Went Bad and What We Can Do About It. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

The book will be released on March 17, 2020. Here is a short description:

Today’s ways of working are not working—even for professionals in “good” jobs. Responding to global competition and pressure from financial markets, companies are asking employees to do more with less, even as new technologies normalize 24/7 job expectations. In Overload, Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen document how this new intensification of work creates chronic stress, leading to burnout, attrition, and underperformance. “Flexible” work policies and corporate lip service about “work-life balance” don’t come close to fixing the problem. But this unhealthy and unsustainable situation can be changed—and Overload shows how.

Drawing on five years of research, including hundreds of interviews with employees and managers, Kelly and Moen tell the story of a major experiment that they helped design and implement at a Fortune 500 firm. The company adopted creative and practical work redesigns that gave workers more control over how and where they worked and encouraged managers to evaluate performance in new ways. The result? Employees’ health, well-being, and ability to manage their personal and work lives improved, while the company benefited from higher job satisfaction and lower turnover. And, as Kelly and Moen show, such changes can—and should—be made on a wide scale.

For further information and to purchase the book, visit Princeton University Press’ website or Amazon.

Member Publication: Divested: Inequality in the Age of Finance

Please check out the following recent publication by OOW members Ken-Hou Lin and Megan Tobias Neely: Divested: Inequality in the Age of Finance. 2020. New York: Oxford University Press.

Here is a short description of the book:

Finance is an inescapable part of American life. From how one pursues an education, buys a home, runs a business, or saves for retirement, finance orders the lives of ordinary Americans. And as finance continues to expand, inequality soars.

In Divested, Ken-Hou Lin and Megan Tobias Neely demonstrate why widening inequality cannot be understood without examining the rise of big finance. The growth of the financial sector has dramatically transformed the American economy by redistributing resources from workers and families into the hands of owners, executives, and financial professionals. The average American is now divested from a world driven by the maximization of financial profit.

Lin and Neely provide systematic evidence to document how the ascendance of finance on Wall Street, Main Street, and among households is a fundamental cause of economic inequality. They argue that finance has reshaped the economy in three important ways. First, the financial sector extracts resources from the economy at large without providing economic benefits to those outside the financial services industry. Second, firms in other economic sectors have become increasingly involved in lending and investing, which weakens the demand for labor and the bargaining power of workers. And third, the escalating consumption of financial products by households shifts risks and uncertainties once shouldered by unions, corporations, and governments onto families.

A clear, comprehensive, and convincing account of the forces driving economic inequality in America, Divested warns us that the most damaging consequence of the expanding financial system is not simply recurrent financial crises but a widening social divide between the have and have-nots.

Member Publication

Please check out the following recent publication from OOW members Aliya Hamid Rao and Megan Tobias Neely: “What’s Love Got to Do with It? Passion and Inequality in White-Collar Work.” Sociology Compass. Online First.


Emotion has become an increasingly important aspect of work in the 21st century. In this article, we take stock of the extant literature delineating the role of emotions, especially passion as a cultural schema, in white‐collar workplaces. Scholars have covered extensive ground on emotions at work, but the role of passion remains an underexplored yet significant area. Drawing from recent developments in research on white‐collar work, we argue that the passion schema has become a critical marker in the labor market for sorting individuals into occupations, hiring and promotion within organizations, and assigning value to people’s labor. Emergent research suggests that because the expression and perception of passion remain ambiguously defined in the workplace and varies by context, it is pivotal in reproducing social inequalities. In this review, we focus on how privileging passion in the workplace and interpreting it as a measure of aptitude impacts social inequalities by race, gender, and social class. We close by setting an agenda for further research on this topic.

Member Publication

Please check out the following recent publication from OOW member Elizabeth A. Hoffmann: “Allies Already Poised to Comply: How Social Proximity Affects Lactation at Work Law Compliance.” Law & Society Review 53 (3): 791–822.


This study demonstrates how legal compliance may be better achieved when organizations include individuals who will advocate for newly codified rights and related accommodations. To understand compliance with a new law and the rights it confers, this article examines as its case study the Lactation at Work law, which amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to mandate basic provisions for employees to express breast milk at work. In particular, this study interviewed those organizational actors who translate the law into the policies affecting workers’ daily lives: supervising mangers and human resources personnel. Those studied in this article were “Allies Already:” friends or relatives of breastfeeding workers, or ones themselves, who held pro‐breastfeeding values and understood the complexities of combining lactation and employment. They mobilized within their organization to comply with the law swiftly and fully—often even overcomplying. This article demonstrates how heightened compliance, particularly with new laws, may be achieved even without directly affected actors mobilizing their own rights if allies champion needed accommodations.

Member Publication

Please check out the following recent publication from OOW member Aliya Hamid Rao: “From Professionals to Professional Mothers: How College-educated Married Mothers Experience Unemployment in the US.” Work, Employment and Society. Online First.


Unemployment influences life experiences and outcomes, but how it does so may be shaped by gender and parenthood. Because research on unemployment focuses on men’s experiences of unemployment, it presents as universal a process that may be gendered. This article asks: how do college-educated, heterosexual, married mothers experience involuntary unemployment? Drawing on in-depth interviews with unemployed mothers in the US, their husbands, and follow-up interviews, this article finds that the experience of job loss is tempered for mothers as they derive a culturally valued identity from motherhood which also anchors their lives. Husbands’ support emphasises that employment is one of several options mothers can pursue. Couples pivot attention to husbands’ careers as they worry about finances, often resulting in marital tensions. Using mothers’ unemployment as a case, this study demonstrates that unemployment has more divergent implications depending on gender and parenthood than prior theories suggest.