Photo by Riccardo Annandale via Unsplash
Loyal readers and followers of Work in Progress – we’re making our final post here at workinprogress.oowsection.org. Since we started in October 2011, we have grown steadily. In 2016 we took on additional support from the Economic Sociology, Labor and Labor Movements, and Inequality, Poverty and Mobility sections of the American Sociological Association. We’ve also increased the number of fellow sociologists whose work we feature. Both our growing number of sponsors and our growth as a venue for sharing research have challenged our infrastructure. We also began to feel that our appearance was looking a little, ahem, dated.
For all of these reasons, we have decided to move to a new home for Work in Progress (http://www.wipsociology.org/). Our archives, for the time being, will remain here. We know many of you teach with our site and we want to make sure we do not disrupt your syllabi. We’re working on a plan to migrate the archives, and will keep you all posted about our progress with that project. All new content, however, will be posted only on the new site. Our new home’s URL better reflects our diverse sponsorship, we have an increased ability to provide attribution to our authors, and we think the new site looks great. We hope you agree!
by Wei-hsin Yu and Janet Chen-Lan Kuo
Mothers have been shown to receive lower pay than childless women across industrial countries. In the United States, research based on women born in the 1960s or earlier indicates that mothers earn 4-5% less per child, compared to childless women with similar education, length of work experience, and frequency of employment interruptions.
The pay gap between mothers and non-mothers who are otherwise similar—the so-called “motherhood wage penalty”—has been shown to differ in size for women with different marital status, skill level, and age. We know relatively little, however, about how the characteristics of occupations shape the degree to which women are penalized for having children. Occupations, by design, differ in their required training, schedules, and activities. The different work conditions and requirements across occupations may empower or hinder mothers, thereby narrowing or widening the pay gap between mothers and non-mothers.
How exactly should occupational characteristics affect the extent of the motherhood wage penalty? The answer to this question depends on why mothers receive lower wages than childless women in the first place. Because mothers face greater family obligations and time constraints, they may not be able to meet job demands the way childless women can—e.g., being very flexible in making work-related plans—resulting in mothers’ worse job performance and lower pay. If work-family conflict largely accounts for the motherhood wage penalty, then this penalty should be greater in occupations that enable workers less autonomy and more teamwork, as the job performance for such occupations depends more on workers’ ability to perform a certain task at a certain time. Because more autonomous occupations enable greater decision-making latitude, which is thought to lessen job strain, they may also decrease the work-family conflict mothers frequently face, thereby reducing mothers’ wage disadvantage. Likewise, because occupations that require workers to compete intensely with peers tend to be more stressful and time-demanding, mothers in more competitive occupations should be especially likely to suffer from job strain and work-family conflict, resulting in a greater motherhood penalty.
by Beth Redbird
Occupational licensure creates a right to practice, legislatively carving out tasks that can only be performed by authorized practitioners and reserving an occupational title for the sole use of those practitioners. The authority to practice can be obtained only from the state, and unauthorized practice can result in criminal and civil penalties.
Over the past few decades, occupational closure – most often through occupational licensing – quietly became the norm for a broad swath of American occupations. Where only a small set of ‘traditional’ professions once determined entry through regulation, today the practice governs a much wider range of occupations, from doctors to engineers, carpet layers to massage therapists, agricultural inspectors to wilderness guides, and fortune tellers to legal document assistants.
The most substantial growth in occupational licensing has been in blue-collar occupations.
Many occupational licensing boards are made up of senior professionals in that field. Thus, architects draft guidelines for other architects; standards for hairdressers are styled by instructors in cosmetology schools; and frog farmers must leap over barriers imposed by fellow amphibious agriculturalists.
Because not every worker who wants a license can obtain one, licensure is thought to raise wages for licensed workers by artificially restricting supply. If true, this would mean that licensed workers benefit at the expense of consumers.
Happy Friday! This is our final post of the year, and we’ve got a big 2018 planned for Work in Progress so stay tuned. In the meantime, here are the stories that we’ve been reading this week.
The Lede – Homelessness
“The Lede” is our occasional Friday Roundup section that provides a mix of a prominent news story and some recent social science on the same topic. This week we are featuring The Guardian Newspaper’s visually stunning and heart wrenching look at the practice of one-way bus ticket purchases for individuals who are street homeless:
Here are a few other recent stories about homelessness that caught our attention:
Here is a selection of recent articles on homelessness in the United States:
Changing Policy on Taxes and Immigration
Policing in America
by Arne Kalleberg and Steven Vallas
Profound changes in paid employment have unfolded in recent decades, with serious consequences for millions of workers whose jobs, careers, and family lives have are been exposed to rising levels of risk. Though much of the attention has focused on the advanced capitalist societies, precarious work has also grown through Asia and much of the global south.
Involved here is the spread of work that is uncertain or insecure, in which risks are shifted from employers and governments to workers, and in which workers lack the legal protections and benefits that the standard work arrangement once offered.
Familiar examples of precarious work include temporary and contract work, but growing rapidly now are jobs in the “gig” or on-demand economy, “bogus” self employment in which workers are independent in name only. Working under these conditions can over time have adversely affect individuals, shaping workers’ trajectories in ways that can inflict lasting harm.
Workers often suffer income insecurity. They cannot know when they will be working, if at all. They have little or no access to job training or sick days. And they often feel like outsiders while on the job. Societal effects can also accumulate, as when the weakening of economic attachments drives the social and political instability that has surfaced in recent years, at times seeming to threaten the foundations of liberal democracy itself.
What is known about these developments? One set of answers can be found in Precarious Work, our just-published collection of original papers on the topic.
Happy Friday, sociologists! It is finals week here at WIP and so, like a student stumbling in with fifteen minutes left in the exam, our #FridayRoundup is a bit belated today. We hope you have a great weekend!
This Week in Washington
Race and Politics
In the Discipline
by Stephanie Bonnes
In the recent news several instances of sexual harassment and sexual abuse have been brought to light. These cases of sexual abuse highlight how powerful men, such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Matt Lauer can use their positions to exploit, harass, and cause harm to others.
There has been less focus on how these individuals were made powerful and protected by institutions that both enabled them to harass and gave them the tools through which they could cause harm. In my research, I explore the intersection between bureaucracy and harassment in the context of the United States military.
Earlier this year “Marines United” was identified as a closed Facebook group where over 30,000 servicemen shared nude photos of servicewomen. Many of the comments following the identification of “Marines United” asked whether the military had policies and regulations as well as avenues to prosecute servicemembers for online activities. We often understand policies, rules, and regulations as ways to prevent, address, and punish those who might perpetrate sexual harassment and abuse.
However, my research shows that it is also important to recognize the discretionary power that individuals have in interpreting, carrying out, and implementing organizational rules, policies, and regulations. The interplay between organizational polices, workplace climate, and individuals in power can lead to sexual abuse in the workplace.
In a recently published article, I use the term “bureaucratic harassment” to explain workplace harassment where bureaucracy is both the tool that perpetrators use to harass, as well as their source of power over others in the organization.
Today we’ve adding a new element to our Friday news roundups – “The Lede”. We’ll use this space to feature reporting along with social science research on a topic that has been in the news. We hope you find it interesting!
The Lede – Race, Childbirth, and Mortality
ProPublica and NPR have been reporting on maternal mortality all year. We’ve linked to some of their major stories below along with some related reporting from Vox.com, which published the video embedded above on race and childbirth. We’ve also linked to some articles on poor birth outcomes more generally in the U.S.
Taxes in America
Thinking About “Science”
by Alice Sullivan
How is socio-economic advantage and disadvantage passed down from parent to child? This is a central question for sociologists and policymakers alike. No one denies the vital role that education plays in this process. However, sociologists have long argued that there is a persistent ‘direct effect of social origins’ on occupational attainment which cannot be accounted for by education. This residual direct effect of social origins on occupational destinations has acquired the status of a stylized fact within sociology, sometimes simply referred to as ‘DESO’.
Our recent study challenges the consensus on this issue. We ask, could the direct effect of social origins be an artefact of using overly crude measures of education?
If you want to get a top social class position, it certainly helps to be a university graduate. But simply having a degree may not be enough. It may also matter what subject your degree is in, and whether you attended a prestigious university. Yet most studies of social mobility have not accounted for these educational distinctions, which are likely to matter for access to top jobs nowadays.
We set out to provide a refined account of the educational pathways from origins to destinations, using data from a nationally representative sample of over 17,000 people born in Britain in 1970, using the 1970 British Cohort Study. The BCS70 is longitudinal, meaning that the same group of people have been followed up over time. The BCS70 study members have been followed from birth, when their parents were interviewed, to mid-life. The study is ongoing, and the cohort members are interviewed every few years.
Graduate students protest changes to U.S. tax laws at the University of Southern California (via LA Times)
Happy Friday (and welcome back to those of you in U.S. who had holiday break last week!). Here is a collection of what we’ve been reading this week.
Cut, Cut, Cut
Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, New Jobs, Old Jobs
Gun Violence in America
The Far Right