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Research Findings

Research Findings

Capitalist Restructuring and the Power of Women Textile Workers in Egypt


September 24, 2020

In a recent study, I found that, contra to expectations, women’s capacities to organize in the public sector of Misr Weaving and Spinning Company of Mahalla (an industrial city north of Cairo) were enhanced much more in the strike wave of the 2000s than the previous wave of strikes in 1980s. Women workers initiated the strikes, mobilized other workers to join, and took leadership positions. This happened in spite of the fact that the company had become more gender-segregated and the factory regime remained very despotic. By the 2000s, all 5000 women in the company (out of the total of 24,000) were segregated in clothing departments. How did women workers in despotic and segregated departments play leading roles in the strikes?

I show that changes in the textile industry and the reorganization of work gave women structural power that they utilized by developing working-class consciousness to fight for their rights as workers. As the exports of clothing grew from the 1990s and as women were segregated in those departments, they were empowered because they understood the importance of their departments to the company. These changes led to solidarities that cut across gender lines.

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Research Findings

Token women’s voices in male-dominated teams

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September 17, 2020

When there is a token female in a team of all males, does she speak up with suggestions and concerns related to the team task? And if she does, when are her ideas acted upon by the team and does this matter for team performance?

In our paper, we propose that it really depends on the leader’s gender beliefs and the nature of the task. When the team leader holds more positive beliefs about the capabilities of women, they are more likely to signal to the team that the token females’ ideas are worthy of consideration. This counteracts negative evaluations associated with tokenism and gender stereotypes, and at the same time, bolsters the likelihood her ideas will be attended to, processed, and enacted by the team. 

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Research Findings

The COIN project and rising between workplace inequalities

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September 10, 2020

Over the last few years an expanding group of social scientists, mostly sociologists, have been working under the banner of the Comparative Organizational Inequality Network (COIN). We have an intellectual center of gravity in inequality, organizations and economic sociologies, but we also include economists, management, and industrial relations scholars working at last count from sixteen countries.

Our network has been developing methods and theory to exploit the far reaching and exciting potential of linked employer-employee administrative data that is increasingly available from national governments. Sociology, since Jim Baron and Bill Bielby told us we should bring the firm back into studies of inequality, has been waiting for such rich data. In most countries we can track people within and between firms and know a lot about both people, their workplaces, and the network structure of labor market movement of people between workplaces.

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Research Findings

The Eurozone poses challenges for labour at large – and not just for the ‘South’

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September 2, 2020

The financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing sovereign debt crisis that engulfed the Eurozone were asymmetric shocks with uneven consequences. Unlike the creditor countries of the northern core, peripheral Eurozone countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece were subject to various forms of policy conditionality, mandating the implementation of deep liberalising reforms in exchange for the receipt of financial assistance from the Troika or the European Central Bank.

As a result, trade unions in the periphery suffered heavy defeats when governments implemented unprecedented liberalising reforms of labour market and welfare state institutions. The uneven impacts of the Euro crisis governance reinforced a common narrative highlighting the core-periphery cleavage between the ‘North’ and ‘South’. These divisions have resurfaced acrimoniously in the recent negotiation of the EU response to the unfolding Covid-19 crisis.

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Research Findings

Mismatched meaning making at a bottle and can redemption center


August 28, 2020

Every day — even in the midst of a global pandemic — men and women known as “canners” spend hours trawling city streets for empty bottles and cans. Many bring their containers to redemption centers, where they sell their wares for five cents apiece. In turn, redemption centers sell recyclables at a profit to beverage distribution companies, which must purchase them under local laws like New York’s Bottle Bill.

What motivates these workers? In a recently published study, I find that canners are motivated primarily by the money they make from bottle and can redemption, and by work conditions like job autonomy and the ability to work without papers.

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Research Findings

How wearing the hijab may influence labor market outcomes


August 25, 2020

On average, Muslim women work for pay less than other women around the world, but until recently, we did not know if this was also true in the United States. A study I published recently answers this question and digs into which Muslim women might be less engaged in paid work outside the home and why. I find that only visibly Muslim women, those who wear the hijab, have significantly lower employment than non-Muslim women.

Why should we care about Muslim women’s employment?

Demographers, sociologists, and economists track women’s employment, because participation in the labor force has been linked to women’s empowerment both individually and across societies. Paid work may have many downsides—especially when juggled with a disproportionate amount of care work—but in capitalist economies, it is a key component of financial independence, which has been shown to impact wellbeing. As a result, we often think of women’s employment as an indicator not just of women’s individual outcomes, but also of overall gender inequality in a society. For example, Paula England argues that the plateau in women’s entry into the labor force in the United States in the 1990s and 2010s is evidence that the gender revolution has stalled.

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Research Findings

How freelancers are disadvantaged when applying for full-time positions


July 14, 2020

Since the late-twentieth century, there has been an explosion of precarious work in the U.S labor market. The precariat comprises of a diverse set of workers, including but not limited to part-time, temporary, contingent workers, and independent contractors – or freelancers.

Freelancers make up a significant part of the precarious workforce. A survey reported that out of 57 million Americans who engaged in some types of nonstandard work in 2019, around 16 million considered themselves full-time freelancers. Despite its size and importance, freelancers remain understudied relative to other segments of the precarious workforce. Additionally, while we know a great deal about how workers transition out of traditional jobs to become freelancers, movements in the opposite direction received much less attention. My recent research explores how a history of freelancing affects workers’ subsequent career prospects.

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Research Findings

Between a promise and a salary: unpaid labor among student-migrant-workers


July 7, 2020

It has been argued that ‘capital’s lifeblood is unpaid work’. Scholars have examined unpaid work in sectors such as care work, creative industries, and voluntary work.

In a recent article, I demonstrate that many non-EU student-migrants perform unpaid work in an effort to build a successful future while inhabiting a legally insecure migration status. The students perform unpaid work in temporary and platform jobs to secure a renewed temporary student residence permit, as well as in unpaid internships with the hope of getting access to future highly skilled employment.

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Research Findings

How Managers Understand and Apply Merit in the Workplace


June 23, 2020

Most executives today understand that if their companies are to thrive in an increasingly competitive and dynamic marketplace, they must hire and retain the most talented employees. This has created imperatives to recruit job candidates solely on the basis of merit, and reward and promote employees based on their work performance.

Adding to these increasingly competitive pressures, companies are now at the center of intensely charged debates about racial and gender inequality. Facing a greater need than ever to demonstrate a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and racial justice, corporate executives, even those with openly progressive ethos, have struggled to rectify demographic imbalances in their organizations. For example, Google’s US workforce is just 32.0 percent female and only 3.7 percent Black, per the Google Diversity Annual Report 2020. To improve the recruitment and retention of underrepresented employees — and, importantly, to show that their decisions about whom to hire, reward, and promote are based on objective, fair, unbiased criteria — some companies have become eager to dismantle any role that bias might play in employment decisions and outcomes.

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Research Findings

How do wars affect workers in the United States?


June 19, 2020

During the height of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, workers producing military supplies were at the heart of a strike wave in the United States, calling for a more equitable distribution of war-profits in the form of higher wages and better benefits. Although little attention has been paid to them, such strikes by manufacturing workers in war-industries have caused nearly 2.2 million working days lost in recent decades.

This is not a new phenomenon: During the large wars of the twentieth century, industrial workers in the United States regularly engaged in strikes that raised their wages and ushered in new institutions designed to protect workers’ rights.

These recent strikes—alongside this historical relationship—raise an important question: How have U.S. wars affected workers in the twenty-first century? In a recent article, I explore this question by reviewing strikes by manufacturing workers in war-industries.

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