John is a white, college-educated professional who lost his job. When I interviewed John, he chalked up his job loss as being a business decision, “A work superior explained to me that the business outlook was not looking good for the upcoming months. And consequently, it was a business decision, and not related to my work performance.” John added, “it was all based on dollars.”
As I explain in a new article published in Gender & Society, for John and for dozens of other unemployed men that I interviewed, the process of losing a job was a fact of the contemporary U.S. economy. For some it also appeared to reinforce their professional value.
We live in a world run by algorithms. Nowhere is this more apparent than with platform companies, such as Facebook, Uber, Google, Amazon, and Twitter. Platforms claim that their algorithms collect and use our data to optimize our experience with breathtaking speed and efficiency.
Recent reports from scholars, journalists, and policy makers, however, have revealed that platforms’ algorithms exacerbate bias and discrimination in ways that are difficult to audit.
In my recent study of workers on a labor platform, I found a broader concern about the way platforms use algorithms to control participants. Platforms’ algorithms create an invisible cage for platform users, because workers have no way of reliably accessing how their data is being processed or used to control their success on the platform.
Most popular discourse on “returns to college” tends to assume—implicitly or explicitly—that adult class location is largely a result of individual earnings that flow from investments in education.
Recently, we published a qualitative longitudinal study of social mobility among a cohort of college-educated white women in the American Journal of Sociology. We followed 45 women who started college on the same residence hall at a flagship public university for 12 years, with a final wave of data collection at age 30.
We show that social class location over time was “sticky,” in that both upward and downward mobility were limited. The heavy hand of social class in shaping both marital patterns and the transfer of wealth accounts for the persistence of class position across generations.