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Happy new year!

Here are the top five most viewed posts of 2013.

1) Storytelling and the Myth of Reverse Discrimination by Kevin Stainback

2) A Luddite, An Economist and a Marxist Walk Into a Modern Factory … by Matt Vidal

3) Early Childhood Education: No Place for Men? by Lata Murti

4) Work-Family Conflict is Not the Problem. Overwork Is. by Robin J. Ely and Irene Padavic

5) College Professors Have the Least Stressful Job? Ask a Sociologist Who Studies Work by Adia Harvey Wingfield

The WIP team is delighted to welcome a new regular contributor, Doris Ruth Eikhof, Lecturer in Work and Organisation Studies at Stirling Management School, University of Stirling.

Doris has published leading research on creative workers and industries and work-life balance.

In her first post here, Doris discusses the rise of “mumpreneurship” — mothers running parenting-focused businesses from out of their homes — and asks is this is actually a form of female empowerment or a step forward for gender equality in the labor market.

The current issue of the journal New Technology, Work and Employment features two articles on Foxconn in China, both of which are free for one month.

As described in the editorial to the issue by Debra Howcroft and Phil Taylor:

“These papers in different ways are concerned with the production of electronic consumables by Foxconn,the Taiwanese-owned multinational supplier, which is China’s leading exporter. … The first of the articles provides the remarkable testimony of Tian Yu, a young female migrant worker, who attempted suicide by jumping from the fourth floor of her dormitory accommodation. Tian’s account has been crafted with great skill and sympathy by Jenny Chan.”

“The second article locates this narrative in the broader political-economic context of the buyer-driven value chain, in which Apple establishes parameters and control over price-setting, production processes and product delivery from its suppliers, notably Foxconn. Based on extensive fieldwork and thorough documentary analysis, Chan, Ngai and Selden analyse the consequences of this asymmetrical power relationship.As the scale of production has ramped up, Apple’s ‘value capture’ and profits have soared while Foxconn’s margins have flatlined, the outcome being massive intensification of work and a harsh workplace managerial regime.”

Work_Family_Interface

The Work-Family Interface: An Introduction by Stephen Sweet (SAGE, 2013).

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book The Work-Family Interface: An Introduction  (Sage 2014).  While there are so many good books and articles about work and family, I observed difficulties in locating an engaging narrative that succinctly explained the concepts and perspectives central to “work-family” scholarship.  So this book is designed to fill that gap and help instructors orient students (and other interested individuals) to the ways that home and jobs intersect.  Included in my discussions are the impacts that institutional arrangements have on lives, capacities to provide and receive care, family formation, business effectiveness, and sustainability.  It is also designed to demonstrate the connectedness of families across the world in the global economy.  The Work-Family Interface highlights policy paths taken, and those not taken, and the consequences that can be observed by comparing the United States with other societies.

-Stephen Sweet

Ithaca College

The latest issue of Work, Employment and Society (27,3) is a special issue celebrating 25 years of publication. It is freely available to all readers until 31 July 2013:  http://wes.sagepub.com/content/current

  • Reflections on work and employment into the 21st century: between equal rights, force decides, by Mark Stuart, Irena Grugulis, Jennifer Tomlinson, Chris Forde and Robert MacKenzie
  • Unsustainable employment portfolios, by John Buchanan, Gary Dymski, Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, Adam Leaver and Karel Williams
  • Women and recession revisited, by Jill Rubery and Anthony Rafferty
  • The nature of front-line service work: distinctive features and continuity in the employment relationship, by Jacques Bélanger and Paul Edwards
  • Postfordism as a dysfunctional accumulation regime: a comparative analysis of the USA, the UK and Germany, by Matt Vidal
  • Financialization and the workplace: extending and applying the disconnected capitalism thesis, by Paul Thompson
  • Finance versus Democracy? Theorizing finance in society, by Sylvia Walby
  • Work, employment and society through the lens of moral economy, by Sharon C Bolton and Knut Laaser
  • Ethnographic fallacies: reflections on labour studies in the era of market fundamentalism, by Michael Burawoy
  • Review of Scott Lash & John Urry The End of Organized Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987, £18.00 pbk, (ISBN: 9780745600697), 248pp, Gibson Burrell, Miguel Lucio Martinez, Ian Greer Response to reviews, Scott Lash and John Urry
  • 25 Favourite WES Articles chosen by WES readers, editors and authors

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Symbolic Power, Politics, and Intellectuals: The Political Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu by David L. Swartz (University of Chicago Press, 2013).

The multi-faceted work of Pierre Bourdieu, clearly one of the greatest post-World War II sociologists, has inspired much research in a wide variety of areas, such as culture, taste, education, theory, and stratification.  Largely neglected, however, is the underlying political analysis in Bourdieu’s sociology, his political project for sociology, and his own political activism. Yet the analysis of power, particularly in its cultural forms, stands at the heart of Bourdieu’s sociology. Bourdieu challenges the commonly held view that symbolic power is simply “symbolic.” His sociology sensitizes us to the more subtle and influential ways that cultural resources and symbolic categories and classifications interweave prevailing power arrangements into everyday life practices.  Indeed cultural resources and processes help constitute and maintain social hierarchies. And these form the bedrock of political life.

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The OOW team is delighted to welcome a new regular contributor, Kevin Stainback, Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue University.

Kevin has published leading research on inequality, work, and organizations. His recent book Documenting Desegregation (2012 Russell Sage), with Don Tomaskovic-Devey, explores changes in racial and gender segregation in Private sector U. S. workplaces since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In his first post, soon to be up, Kevin exposes the “myth of reverse discrimination” and discusses how the narratives underlying this belief function to maintain individual identities in ways that reinforce racial hierarchy.

P&P

John F. Padgett and Walter W. Powell. 2012. The Emergence of Organizations and Markets. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Innovation in the sense of product design is a popular research topic today, because there is a lot of money in that. Innovation, however, in the deeper sense of new actors—new types of people, new organizational forms—is not even much on the research radar screen of contemporary social scientists, even though “speciation” (to use the biologists’ term for this) lies at the heart of historical change over the longue durée, both in biological evolution and in human history. Social science—meaning mostly economics, political science and sociology—is very good at understanding selection, both at the micro level of individual choice and at the macro level of institutional regulation and lock-in. But novelty, especially of actors but also of alternatives, has first to enter from off the stage of our collective imaginary for our existing theories to be able to go to work. Our analytical shears for trimming are sharp, but the life forces that push up novelty to be trimmed tend to escape our attention, much less our understanding. If this book accomplishes anything, we at least hope to put the research topic of speciation—the emergence of new organizational forms and people—on our collective agenda.

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Amy J. Binder and Kate Wood.

2013.

Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives.

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

For more than half a century, critics located in right-leaning think tanks, foundations, and the media have championed the cause of conservative undergraduates who, they say, suffer on college campuses. In books with such titles as Freefall of the American University and The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, conservative critics charge that American higher education has become the playpen of radical faculty who seek to spread their anti-religious, big government, liberal ideas to their young undergraduate charges. In this portrait of the politicized university, middle-of-the road students complacently consume their professors’ calculated misinformation, liberal students smugly revel in feeling that they are on the righteous side of the political divide, and conservative students must decide whether to endure their professors’ tirades quietly or give voice to their outrage, running the risk of sacrificing their grades. Administrators, according to the critics, do little to stop the madness.

To mitigate the effects of what they perceive to be an overwhelmingly liberal environment, conservative organizations such as the Young America’s Foundation and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute have sprung up to help right-leaning students. Yet over the period of time that these organizations have flourished, scholars have taken little systematic notice. In Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives, we fill this gap. Our book—a comparative case study of “Eastern Elite Univerity” and “Western Public University”—covers several themes, including the demographic background characteristics of today’s conservative college students, the organizations that have worked for the past 50 years to mobilize and fund conservative students’ activities, an account of how young women on different campuses vary in their “conservative femininity,” and an analysis of students’ own thoughts about liberal bias.

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The latest issue of the academic journal Human Relations (Vol. 66, No. 4) is a special issue on the topic of “Understanding job quality.” The issue was guest edited by sociologists Patricia Findlay, Arne L Kalleberg and our own regular blog contributor, Chris Warhurst. The publisher, SAGE, has made the issue Free to the public until April 23, 2013. The full issue can be accessed here.

The special issue includes an intro by Findlay, Kalleberg and Warhurst, and additional articles on:

Direct participation at work among British workers by Duncan Gallie

Variation in job quality across Europe by David Holman

Rural work in Newfoundland and Ireland by Gordon B Cooke, Jimmy Donaghey, and Isik U Zeytinoglu

The extent to which North American workers are  working full-time, contract, or part-time by choice or not by Catherine Loughlin and Robert Murray

Job quality for university graduates in the UK by Belgin Okay-Somerville and Dora Scholarios

The growth of bad jobs in the US by Matt Vidal