New book

How war spurred seaborne enterprise and enabled new careers in the early modern world


June 3, 2021

Social science historians have long recognized that war was the rule rather than the exception in early modern Europe. The so-called “Second One Hundred Years’ War”, for example, pitted France and Britain against each other in at least six major confrontations between 1688 and 1815. 

The motivations behind these armed conflicts were manifold: religious rifts, dynastic interests, territorial expansion, and commercial rivalry.

But these wars had political implications that are felt to this day. Following Charles Tilly’s dictum, state-making was inseparable from war-making during this period. Armies and navies were costly. To pay for their services, taxes had to be raised. 

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Driven by Inequalities: Exploring the Resurgence of Domestic Work in US Cities


May 27, 2021

To many Americans, the term “domestic servant” conjures up images of other places and other times. Maybe it is Downton Abbey. Or maybe it is a Latin American country. Or if we do think about the United States, we think about a time long in the past. 

But contrary to popular perceptions, domestic service is very much a part of the contemporary American landscape, and is in fact on the rise for the first time in over one hundred years.

What explains this twenty-first century resurgence of an occupation that sociologist Lewis Coser declared obsolete in 1973? The short answer: inequality.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

How gentrification reproduces racial inequality

and
May 20, 2021

Gentrification—the socioeconomic upgrading of previously low-income neighborhoods—has spread to more cities and more neighborhoods over the last two decades. It has increasingly ignited opposition around how it displaces poor residents out of their once-neglected neighborhoods.

But research has consistently found that this isn’t the case.

Nearly all studies, including our own, that track poor residents living in gentrifying neighborhoods find that they do not move out of their neighborhoods—in general or involuntarily—substantially more than those living in low-income neighborhoods that don’t gentrify. Instead, most of the demographic changes in the neighborhood are due to the changing demographics of who is moving into neighborhoods rather than who is moving out.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Public Sector and Politically Engaged: The Role of Unions

, and
May 14, 2021

Research finds that public sector workers are more politically active and civically engaged than the broader public. Our work investigates the role of labor unions in amplifying and shaping this participation. 

With one in three public sector workers unionized, unionization has widespread implications. Public workers make up nearly half of all union members in the United States, including large numbers of women and people of color. However, the political terrain of public unions is shifting with the passage of restrictive laws and increased political opposition, especially over the past decade. This opposition threatens to erode public union membership, potentially undermining political and civic participation.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Illuminating the linguistic marketplace


May 6, 2021

Language is part and parcel of work. Sociological approaches to the study of language at work have tended to emphasize dramatic differences in language use at work, such as the discrimination that immigrants face when attempting to enter or navigate new workplaces where the language spoken is not their own. Yet language operates on a much more subtle level. Linguistic differences that are difficult to detect can effectively distinguish between people who are engaged in different kinds of work. 

We address these subtleties in a recent study by drawing on precise socio-linguistic measurement techniques to examine how specific dialect features are associated with the development of linguistic employment niches. Our study examines how the expression of six Southern US vowel sounds maps onto the industrial workforce experiences of 190 native Raleigh, North Carolina speakers. We show that dialect features are not only tied to specific industries, but that the dynamic connection between dialect and industry helps to reveal fundamental transformations in a community’s socio-linguistic landscape. 

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Teachers’ unions reduce gender pay gap among U.S. public school teachers


April 29, 2021

The gender pay gap has decreased substantially over the past decades in the U.S. However, women still earn 18% less than their male counterparts. Even after adjusting for basic pay-related factors, such as education, experience, industry, and occupation, women earn 91.6 cents for every dollar earned by comparable men.

Despite the fact that gender pay gaps have been well-documented, few studies have examined the earning difference by gender in the U.S. educational sector. This may be because one might expect to find gender parity in public schools, as most school districts use fixed salary schedules based on years of experience and educational attainment.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

Who gets to feel safe? In-person workers during the pandemic

and
April 22, 2021

In-person workers have faced intense health and safety issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research examines in-person workers’ experiences on the job. Far from the early cries of COVID as the “great equalizer,” we find that in-person work during the pandemic has heightened the class, race, and gender inequalities that already permeate the workplace. 

We began surveying essential workers in Massachusetts at the start of the pandemic, as part of the COVID-19 Workplace Project run by the Labor Center at the University of Massachusetts. Since July, we expanded the survey to include in-person workers from multiple states. We used paid Facebook advertisements to target in-person workers in specific geographic area. Each survey ran for one week. In total, we have conducted five surveys between April and December 2020, hearing from over 8,500 in-person workers. 

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

A Devastated Brazil: How Bolsonaro has dismantled labor and environmental protections

and
April 20, 2021

Burning forests, high rates of unemployment and informal labor are dramatic expressions of the environmental and social devastation plaguing Brazil since Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019. To blame is the Brazilian president’s radical program of neoliberalization aligned with support from a neofascist movement.

Between August 2018 and July 2019, nearly 200,000 fire outbreaks destroyed over 10,000 km2 of forested land area.

The most prominent was the infamous “Day of Fire” in the Amazon when farmers, loggers, and businessmen burned the region of Novo Progresso. Other fires in the Pantanal region alone accounted for a nearly 200% rise in fire outbreaks.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

How Undergraduate Internships Lead to Early Career Inequality and Misconceptions about College Majors


April 15, 2021

College graduates are struggling to find middle-class jobs at an historic rate. As recently as 2018, a third of college graduates were underemployed, and the overall unemployment rate for young people jumped to a high of 28% during the COVID pandemic, discouraging recent graduates who believed they would easily enter the labor market after graduation.

Participating in at least one undergraduate internship is a common strategy for college students to “maximize” their employment chances after graduation. At any given time there are over a million interns in the U.S. economy of which roughly a half are unpaid. Yet, we know relatively little about which internships are good for students and which are just short-term work where employers take advantage of students by assigning them limited tasks with little or no remuneration.

Continue Reading…
Research Findings

On the destructive forces of the capitalist mode of production: Or, how to counter corporate violence with degrowth

and
April 8, 2021

Corporations are the cogwheels in the machinery that makes up capitalism. By dragging peoples and environments into its mode of production, corporations satisfy their profit-hunger and disastrous growth-ambitions.

In our recent article we conceptualize the destructive forces of the capitalist mode of production as corporate violence. Corporate violence helps to showcase how organizations are inflicting violence as part of their routine operations, while pointing to the intricacies of how violence is structurally organized.

Continue Reading…