New Publication: Shaking Things Up: Disruptive Events and Inequality

Hi OOW! Check out this new article by Letian Zhang:


Zhang, L. Shaking Things Up: Disruptive Events and Inequality. American Journal of Sociology 2021 127:2, 376-440


This article develops a theory of how disruptive events could reduce racial and gender inequality in organizations. Despite pressure from regulators and advocates, racial and gender inequality in the workplace remains high. The article theorizes that because such inequality is often reinforced by organizational inertia, disruptive changes that shake up old hierarchies, break down routines, and shift culture could offer an opportunity for racial minority and women workers to advance. The author tests this theory by examining 37,343 mergers and acquisitions in the United States from 1971 to 2015. Using a difference-in-differences design, the author finds that although acquisitions lead to occupational reconfigurations that favor higher-skilled workers, they also improve the managerial representation of racial minorities and women and reduce racial and gender segregation in the acquired workplace. These findings suggest that certain radical organizational changes could significantly reduce racial and gender inequality.

New Publication: The Precarity of Self-Employment among Low- and Moderate-Income Households

Hi OOW members! Please check out this new article from OOW member Daniel Auguste, Stephen Roll and Mathieu Despard:


Daniel Auguste, Stephen Roll, Mathieu Despard, The Precarity of Self-Employment among Low- and Moderate-Income Households, Social Forces, 2022;, soab171,


Many people in the United States have achieved economic stability through self-employment and are often seen as embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and seizing opportunity. Yet, research also suggests that self-employment may be precarious for many people in the lower socioeconomic strata. Drawing on a unique dataset that combines longitudinal survey data with administrative tax data for a sample of low- and moderate-income (LMI) workers, we bring new evidence to bear on this debate by examining the link between self-employment and economic insecurity. Overall, our results show that self-employment is associated with greater economic insecurity among LMI workers compared with wage-and-salary employment. For instance, compared with their wage-and-salary counterparts, the self-employed have 78, 168, and 287 percent greater odds of having an income below basic expenses, and experiencing an unexpected income decline and high levels of income volatility, respectively. We also find that differences in financial endowment and access to health insurance are key drivers in explaining the relationship between employment type and economic insecurity, as being able to access $2,000 in an emergency greatly lowers the odds of budgetary constraint, whereas lack of health insurance increases those odds. These findings suggest that formal work arrangements with wages and benefits offered by an employer promotes greater economic stability among LMI workers compared with informal work arrangements via self-employment. We discuss implications of these results for future research and policy initiatives seeking to promote economic wellbeing through entrepreneurship.

New Publication: Stata tip 142: joinby is the real merge m:m

Hi OOW members! Here is a methods article from OOW Member Deni Mazrekaj‘s recent work:


1. Mazrekaj D, Wursten J. Stata tip 142: joinby is the real merge m:m. The Stata Journal. 2021;21(4):1065-1068. doi:10.1177/1536867X211063416


The merge command is one of Stata’s most used commands and works fine as long as the match key is unique in one of the datasets (that is, merge 1:1, 1:m, or m:1 situations). However, when the match key contains duplicates in either dataset, Stata gives an error message saying that the key variable(s) do not uniquely identify observations in master or using dataset. This article offers examples and tools for working with names in a data set on Stata.

New Publication: Deny, dismiss and downplay: developers’ attitudes towards risk and their role in risk creation in the field of healthcare-AI

Hi OOW members! Check out this new article by Shaul Duke.


Duke, S.A. Deny, dismiss and downplay: developers’ attitudes towards risk and their role in risk creation in the field of healthcare-AI. Ethics Inf Technol 24, 1 (2022).


Developers are often the engine behind the creation and implementation of new technologies, including in the artificial intelligence surge that is currently underway. In many cases these new technologies introduce significant risk to affected stakeholders; risks that can be reduced and mitigated by such a dominant party. This is fully recognized by texts that analyze risks in the current AI transformation, which suggest voluntary adoption of ethical standards and imposing ethical standards via regulation and oversight as tools to compel developers to reduce such risks. However, what these texts usually sidestep is the question of how aware developers are to the risks they are creating with these new AI technologies, and what their attitudes are towards such risks. This paper asks to rectify this gap in research, by analyzing an ongoing case study. Focusing on six Israeli AI startups in the field of radiology, I carry out a content analysis of their online material in order to examine these companies’ stances towards the potential threat their automated tools pose to patient safety and to the work-standing of healthcare professionals. Results show that these developers are aware of the risks their AI products pose, but tend to deny their own role in the technological transformation and dismiss or downplay the risks to stakeholders. I conclude by tying these findings back to current risk-reduction recommendations with regards to advanced AI technologies, and suggest which of them hold more promise in light of developers’ attitudes.

Member Publication: The Challenges of Supporting Necessity Entrepreneurs: Understanding Loan Officer Exit in Microfinance

Check out this recent article by OOW members Laura Doering and Tyler Wry:

CITATION: Doering, Laura, and Tyler Wry. “The Challenges of Supporting Necessity Entrepreneurs: Understanding Loan Officer Exit in Microfinance.” Journal of Business Venturing 37, no. 2 (March 2022): 106189.

ABSTRACT: Necessity entrepreneurship can serve as a pathway out of poverty for low-income individuals, with microfinance often providing important financial support. Yet the relational lending stra-
tegies common among microfinance institutions may influence loan officer turnover and, in turn,
compromise entrepreneurs’ access to credit. While there is some reason to suspect that relational
lending with poor entrepreneurs will increase retention, we propose that serving the poor may
make loan officers more likely to quit: loan officers in commercial microfinance institutions are
unlikely to have strong commitments to poverty alleviation and may be taxed by the challenging
fieldwork associated with lending in poor areas. Qualitative and quantitative data from a
microfinance bank in Latin America support our expectations, showing that exit becomes more
likely when loan officers’ work involves more poor clients and that the effect is strongest when
such work demands intensive fieldwork in low-income areas. Supplementary analyses of trends
across the global microfinance industry demonstrate that poor clients have a stronger impact on
exit in for-profits than non-profits, suggesting that prosocial motives among non-profit employees
may have a buffering effect. Overall, our study reveals how providing services to necessity en-
trepreneurs can have negative, unexpected consequences for frontline employees

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.