“Alternative financial services” (AFS), such as payday lenders, check cashers, and pawnshops, have expanded dramatically in recent decades, reshaping the American financial services landscape. In New York State, for example, the number of AFS increased from 2,428 in 1998 to 4,041 in 2015. Nationally, payday lenders are now more common than McDonald’s and Starbucks, combined—nearly one in four households will use an AFS each year.
Policymakers, inequality scholars, and advocates for the poor have long been concerned with AFS because they tend to be more expensive than “mainstream” banking. For example, using a check casher in lieu of a bank could cost tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a career. About half of people who take out payday loans end up paying more in interest and fees than the value of the initial loan, which suggests that these products can exploit economic insecurity and trap individuals in cycles of debt.
The United States struggles with a long history of racial
employment segregation. Exclusionary
hiring based on race was only banned in 1964, and enforcement only gained teeth
when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) set to work in the late
1960s and early 1970s.
We know that segregation declined significantly during the
“long decade of enforcement,” through the early 1980s. Since then, though,
progress seems to have stalled. Sociologists have repeatedly studied occupational
segregation—how separated races are between different jobs—and found that it has
barely moved in more than a generation. Yet even this is too rosy a picture.
There are two broad ways to think about employment segregation. One is occupational, as already mentioned. The other might be called establishment segregation—how separated races are between different workplaces. (An establishment is an individual workplace; think a McDonald’s restaurant, not the McDonalds corporation.) On this dimension, U.S. workplaces have backslid to where they were in the mid-1970s.
Can dialogue be established
between civil society and corporations on social and environmental questions such as climate change? Our study of shareholder engagement at Ford and General Motors suggests that dialogue is
possible and socially-conscious shareholders might be able to drive
positive change in corporations on climate change.
We also show that overcoming
initial adversarial positions take years and, to use the language of Jürgen
Habermas, parties need to shift from strategic action. The strategic action is the instrumental pursuit of individual goals,
to communicative action: a form of
coordinated action where parties achieve a common definition of the
situation. Our study shows how these ideas from German philosophy help explain engagement
effectiveness, and understand current events
in corporate boardrooms.
Dialogue has become central not
only for traditional social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
and labor unions, but also for shareholders, who are
increasingly active on environmental, social
and governance (ESG) issue.
Children are expensive. Almost any parent will attest to
this. For 2015, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that raising a child into
adulthood cost approximately $234,000 in total for a middle-income family.
Families face many similar expenses with childrearing, which
vary over the child’s lifetime. Upon the birth of a child, there are immediate
costs. Parents must purchase food, clothes, and many other items to support
their children on a day-to-day basis. Children bring long-term costs, too, as
parents often have to save money for their children’s futures, particularly for
Although the costs of childrearing may be similar, families have very different resources available to attend to these costs. As a result, higher-income families tend to spend more on their children in absolute dollars, but lower-income families spend a greater proportion of their income on their children, often at a cost to their own financial wellbeing.
of race and scholars of organizational theory have long lamented the lack of a
structural theory of race and organizations. Acker’s classic work, which argued that
gender is a constitutive element of organizations, concluded with a series of
questions about how race shaped organizational formation and continuity.
Similarly, Nkomo called for a structural theory of
organizations that moved beyond understanding race as a simple demographic
characteristic. More recently, scholars such as Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Melissa Wooten have repeatedly called for a theory
that integrates the sociology of race and organizational theory.
In an article recently published in the American Sociological Review, I outline a theory of racialized organizations with the aim of bridging the sub-fields of race and organizational theory. To make my case, I draw on Sewell and Bonilla-Silva, scholars who are concerned with how social structures arise, how structures become stable, and how they constrain or enable human agency in oftentimes in taken-for-granted ways.
That women and men tend to be employed in different occupations comes as no surprise. It is both common knowledge and a basic fact that goes by the name of occupational segregation. That even if there was no occupational segregation at all, still around half of all the overall segregation between women and men would remain at two critical junctures in their lives—the career- and family-building years and retirement—is somehow more surprising.
How did we come up with this fact about segregation over the life course in our recent article? We had to consider additional sources of segregation beyond just the occupations where women and men work. For example, we know that women tend to work for pay shorter hours than men. Call this source of gender differences “time segregation” and call the joint measurement of occupational and time segregation “market segregation.”
Next move on to the elephant in the room, or what is one of the most sex-segregated and sex-typical occupation, even if unpaid: looking after home and family or “homemaking.” To be sure, besides gainful employment in the market and working full time at home, there are other stations in life. Unemployment, being a student, and retirement stand out. Call the measurement of gender differences in these stations “economic segregation.”
The rallying cry for millions of fast
food and retail workers is $15 an hour.
But, low pay isn’t the only occupational hazard that baristas, servers,
and cashiers face. These workers also
contend with work schedules that are unstable and unpredictable.
Long gone are the days of 9-5 shift,
and so too are even regular night or evening shifts. Instead, workers contend with schedules that
vary from day-to-day and week-to-week often with little advance notice. Workers
are required to be on-call – paid if asked to work, but otherwise uncompensated.
No one likes to be told what to do, but it happens all the
time—even to some of the most powerful people. When powerful people have to
comply, what does that mean for the organizations they influence?
We all know
what it feels like to be coerced into doing something that makes us
uncomfortable. As you consider examples of this, you may go to the extreme and think
of a scenario where someone puts a gun to your head and tells you to do
something that you never would do otherwise. While a gun to the head is,
luckily, very unlikely, there are many settings where we might see forced
compliance in our day to day world – including both business and philanthropic settings.
We see this, for example, when watchdog groups or other outside stakeholders (for example, regulatory agencies) mandate certain rules and actions even when the organizational members themselves consider the mandate to be detrimental to their stakeholders. Our motivation for this study was in exploring the performance impact of forced compliance on boardroom actions in corporate and non-profit settings.
Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton(LV)’s men’s artistic director, and founder of Haute streetwear label Off-White, admits he learned a lot from his LV predecessor, and former mentor, Kim Jones, now creative director for Dior Homme.
The two first met in 2007 when Virgil was a virtual unknown and
Kim, a prominent designer renowned for successfully blending high fashion and
streetwear. Virgil reflected on his dream of collaborating with Kim, who he had
admired for years: “I slept on his couch in a front room in Maida Vale and
forced him to teach me stuff; I spent a summer sitting there with him.”
Like every aspiring innovator, Virgil knew that working closely
with stars such as Kim would be good for him. Indeed, stories of junior
designers learning from creative masters are common in various industries. However, what do you get by working with a creative
star beyond fame and connections? And does it actually
make you more creative?
have shown that people with large networks who have many friends and work
relationships are less likely to quit their job than people who only have small
work-related networks. But do people who think of quitting their job change
their networks at work? Do they change the people they go to for advice or seek
out for help? Do they change their friends? Knowing this is important because
after all it may be that people who expect they will be leaving a company give
up their network during the months prior to quitting.
If this is the case it means that many previous studies that have found a connection between network size at time of exit and turnover incorrectly concluded that smaller networks make people leave the organization. Should the explanation behind the relationship between networks and turnover need to be re-written? Indeed, we found in our study that people who were thinking of quitting their job had very different networks from those who were not thinking of quitting. But the results were different from what we expected.
Work in Progress is a project of the American Sociological Association's Sections on Organizations, Occupations, and Work, Economic Sociology, Labor and Labor Movements, and Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility