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Author Archives: Guest Contributor

mop

by Gretchen Purser and Brian Hennigan

The passage of welfare reform in 1996 reshaped the principles and practices of poverty management in the U.S. Most notably, it brought about an end to welfare as an entitlement and imposed rigid time limits, work requirements, and a programmatic focus on “job-readiness.”

Less well known is the fact that welfare reform also decentralized and privatized welfare delivery, opening the door for faith-based organizations to play a more formal and zealous role in the delivery of social services as well as the moral tutelage of the poor.

This two-fisted overhaul of social policy was not a happenstance conjuncture. Rather, it reflects the ascendance of what Jason Hackworth, in his 2012 book Faith-Based, calls religious neoliberalism: the “ideological fusion” between conservative evangelicals and neoliberal politicians that calls for the shrinking and privatization of the welfare state while promoting the faith-based sector as its ideal replacement.

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unemployment

by Aliya Hamid Rao

“How’re you going to find a job when you have no confidence and are very emotional?”

Emily Bader, an office administrator asked me this rhetorical question when I interviewed her about her husband’s unemployment. Emily was worried about her husband, Brian, currently unemployed, who used to work as a project manager. She was concerned about the personality he projected when he went on job interviews. She thought he needed to be confident and upbeat. In his interview with me, Brian agreed with this.

But, after half a year of being unemployed and job-searching, Brian was down in the dumps. Projecting cheer was difficult for him. Emily worried about Brian, but she also worried about when and whether he would find a job. She worried for their future.

Being unemployed is difficult. There is a lot on the line: money, your relationship with your spouse (especially if you’re a man), and feelings of shame and stigma are just some of the negative impacts of unemployment.

But if you’re a white-collar worker, job-searching means showing your best side even you feel your worst. It means convincing potential employers that you not only have the right skills, but, as on a date, you also have “chemistry” with the employers. As sociological research has shown, job-searching and going on job interviews requires tremendous amounts of what sociologist Arlie Hochschild called emotional labor – “the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display.”

Emotional labor is usually done for the benefit of employers, for pay, while its counterpart in the private realm of the family is not done for pay. The white-collar job seeker has to show that he or she is upbeat, cheerful, enthusiastic, and passionate about each job he or she applies to.

But, as I show in a forthcoming article, job-seekers don’t work on their presentation of self alone, nor are they the only ones to worry about how they perform in their job interviews.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

by Hadas Mandel and Moshe Semyonov

Following the implementation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the enactment of affirmative action policies in the United States, both the educational level and the relative income of black men and women rose. Consequently, earnings disparities between blacks and whites declined; this trend continued until the end of the 20th Century, for both genders.

But from the turn of the new millennium, the trend reversed for women and men for the first time since 1970. In light of the continual convergence in black and white pay and the gender differences in the size and sources of the pay gaps, this uniform reversal of the trend is intriguing.

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disrupted

by Benjamin H. Snyder

The twenty-first century workplace compels Americans to be more flexible. To embrace change, work with unpredictable schedules, be available 24/7, and take charge of one’s own career. What are the wider implications of these pressures for workers’ lives? How do they conceive of good work and a good life amid such incessant change?

In my recently published book, The Disrupted Workplace, I consider these questions in light of three groups of American workers—financial professionals, truck drivers, and unemployed job seekers. I look at how they construct moral order in a capitalist system that demands flexibility.

Based on seventy in-depth interviews and three years of participant observation, I argue that the flexible economy transforms how workers experience time. New scheduling techniques, employment strategies, and technologies disrupt the flow and trajectory of working life, which makes the workplace a site of perplexing moral dilemmas. Work can feel both liberating and terrorizing, engrossing in the short term but unsustainable in the long term.

The book contributes to conversations about the human costs of flexible and precarious work by examining how both high and low status workers construct moral order within workplaces and careers that are chaotic and shifting.

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fridmanby Daniel Fridman

Donald Trump’s recent resistance to cutting ties with his personal businesses suggests that he is unconcerned by the appearance that he may benefit financially from being president of the United States. His appeal as a billionaire, and his ability to use his wealth as an asset with voters of vastly different economic means, helps explain his lack of concern.

How did Donald Trump, a billionaire who lives in a Manhattan penthouse full of golden furniture and travels by private jet to his Mar-a-Lago mansion, manage to connect with vast swaths of the U.S. electorate?

One key to understanding Trump’s allure is his experience in the wildly popular financial self-help circuit. As a book author and a well-paid speaker, Trump learned a thing or two about the “common folk” who aspire to financial freedom and who revere the rich people who are “out of the rat race.” It was in this world that Trump perfected his charismatic performance in front of live audiences who were unhappy with their financial lives and sought change.

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by Max Besbris

Consumers generally hope that, when making large purchases, they weigh the objective conditions of the market along with their finances and idiosyncratic tastes. Yet consumers often find themselves without the necessary time to learn about every possible product so they turn to experts and brokers who presumably know more about a particular market.

In the housing market, this means using real estate agents to help sort through all the available houses in a desired neighborhood and within a given price range.

In a recent study published in Socio-Economic Review, I show that agents do a lot more than just show prospective homebuyers available units. Part of their work is to get buyers to feel different emotions during the search process. These emotions then impact economic decisions.

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by Karly Ford and Jason Thompson

Having a parent who graduated from a college or university with selective admissions criteria is associated with a three-fold increase in the likelihood that a child will also attend a selective university.

In our recent article published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, we deploy new data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics that code the names of colleges attended by both parents and children. We link these data with a measure of college admissions selectivity provided by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

Prior work notes the advantages afforded to children of alumni in the admissions process at elite colleges and universities. However, the advantages afforded graduates of selective colleges and universities are not limited to children attending the same institution as their parent.

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