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New book

New book

Rock stars are made, not born

September 24, 2018

Have you ever wondered how some men and women muster the courage to pursue careers in rock music, despite the fact that so few of them will actually “make it”? Or have you questioned why some individuals would intentionally choose a path that will undoubtedly be filled with struggle, miniscule economic payoff, and a slim chance of success?  

Sure, once musicians get to the level of fame of R.E.M., Nirvana, or The White Stripes, it all seems worth it. But what about the countless other musicians who don’t attain such levels of success? Why would they commit to such seemingly irrational choices? In my new book, I attempt to answer these and a host of related sociological questions. Continue Reading…

New book

Exploring the connection between institutional scholarship and interactionism

May 29, 2018

A few years ago this blog ran a panel on ‘The future of organizational sociology’. In this panel renowned organizational scholars discussed the current position of organizational sociology as a field of research at a time when a large amount of organizational theory and research was developed and conducted at business schools. They argued that the future of the field could only be ensured if there were a continued discussion between sociologists based within these very different kinds of institution.

Related debates on the future of organizational sociology and the direction of its development were published in the mid-1980s, for example by Robert Dingwall and Phil Strong and more recently by Patrick McGinty. These authors discussed the long-standing concern of interactionist research with organizations, the ‘negotiated order’ and with the ‘organizing of social life’. They looked for reasons for the neglect of this body of studies by those who, over the past 40 years or so, have developed organizational sociology in departments of sociology and in business schools.

Dingwall, Strong and McGinty argue that for a long time organizational sociology has been preoccupied with formal organizations and with the generation of concepts to aid its study, but that organizational sociologists have followed this interest at the expense of studying the contingencies and complexities of social actions that bring about organizational practices. In contrast to this, they point to the important contribution that interactionism has made to organizational sociology in its study of society as local practice (occurring in specific contexts) and situated practice (tied to specific instances of interaction).

Our book Institutions, Interaction and Social Theory follows on from these arguments by exploring in detail the connection between institutional scholarship and ‘interactionist’ research.

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New book

Teenage work and gender: Origins of the pay gap

February 27, 2018

Pay is a persistent problem from many in the labor market and for many women’s lives. A wide range of perspectives have explored this problem. The human capital approach of mainstream economics emphasizes individual differences between men and women in education, skills and job experience in explaining the pay gap. These differences are explained by women’s childcare and domestic duties which result in labor force interruptions.

The occupational segregation approach of sociology, on the other hand, focuses on occupational characteristics and explains women’s lower pay through differences in their occupations, positions and sectors.

No matter how they approach the pay gap, almost every study on the pay gap has one thing in common: they focus on the adult labor force. However, in the United States, most teenagers work sometime throughout high school. Therefore, work experience and potentially the wage gap start long before the completion of education.

In recent research I have examined the teenage work force. By focusing on this group, I include a previously neglected yet substantial portion of our workforce. More importantly, focusing on early work experiences is like a social laboratory where many typical explanations of the wage gap: motherhood, childcare, housework are simply not applicable.

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