American Sociological Association

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  1. Fitting In or Standing Out? The Tradeoffs of Structural and Cultural Embeddedness

    A recurring theme in sociological research is the tradeoff between fitting in and standing out. Prior work examining this tension tends to take either a structural or a cultural perspective. We fuse these two traditions to develop a theory of how structural and cultural embeddedness jointly relate to individual attainment within organizations. Given that organizational culture is hard to observe, we develop a novel approach to assessing individuals’ cultural fit with their colleagues based on the language expressed in internal e-mail communications.

  2. The Privatization of Political Representation: Community-Based Organizations as Nonelected Neighborhood Representatives

    In an era of public-private partnerships, what role do nonprofit community-based organizations (CBOs) play in urban governance? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Boston, this article presents a new way to understand CBOs’ political role in poor neighborhoods: CBOs as nonelected neighborhood representatives. Over the course of four years, I followed nine CBOs in six Boston neighborhoods as they planned community development projects. The CBOs in my study superseded elected politicians as the legitimate representatives of poor urban neighborhoods.

  3. Blue-Collar Training in High School Leaves Women Behind

    What’s the best way to prepare high schoolers for jobs in the 21st century? Education leaders and the general public have been debating this question with more heat in recent years, clashing over whether to focus on college preparation or vocational training, especially training linked to blue-collar jobs.

  4. America's Biggest Secret or Life in a Culture of Pay Secrecy?

    My eight-year-old daughter received the classic Hasbro Game of Life as a holiday gift this past year.  What caught my attention right away while playing the game with her were the salaries.

  5. “We Must Be out of That”

    Drawing from ethnographic data gathered in a large U.S. supermarket, the author develops the concept of deflective labor to further our understanding of customer service work as more than providing service to the customer. In an effort to maintain dignity on the shop floor, workers learned to simultaneously deflect and fulfill customer service inquiries. Rather than viewing deflection as the logical conclusion of a low-skilled workforce, positing deflective labor as an actual form of assistance allows us to better understand the realities of interactive service work.

  6. Fall 2016 Contexts online free until January 31

    Letter from the Editors

    Trumped

  7. Class Advantage, Commitment Penalty: The Gendered Effect of Social Class Signals in an Elite Labor Market

    Research on the mechanisms that reproduce social class advantages in the United States focuses primarily on formal schooling and pays less attention to social class discrimination in labor markets. We conducted a résumé audit study to examine the effect of social class signals on entry into large U.S. law firms. We sent applications from fictitious students at selective but non-elite law schools to 316 law firm offices in 14 cities, randomly assigning signals of social class background and gender to otherwise identical résumés.

  8. Sexual Orientation in the Labor Market

    Most analyses of sexual orientation and earnings find that gay men face a wage gap, whereas lesbian women earn higher wages than similar heterosexual women. However, analyses rarely consider bisexual men and women as a unique group separate from other sexual minorities. I argue that such binary views of sexual orientation—treating sexual minorities as a homogenous non-heterosexual group—have obscured understandings of the impact of sexual orientation on labor market outcomes.

  9. Collective Labor Rights and Income Inequality

    This article examines the relationship between income inequality and collective labor rights, conceptualized as workers’ legal and practical ability to engage in collective activity. Although worker organization is central to explaining income inequality in industrialized democracies, worldwide comparative studies have neglected the role of class-based actors. I argue that the repression of labor rights reduces the capacity of worker organizations to effectively challenge income inequality through market and political processes in capitalist societies.

  10. A Dynamic Process Model of Private Politics

    This project explores whether and how corporations become more receptive to social activist challenges over time. Drawing from social movement theory, we suggest a dynamic process through which contentious interactions lead to increased receptivity. We argue that when firms are chronically targeted by social activists, they respond defensively by adopting strategic management devices that help them better manage social issues and demonstrate their normative appropriateness.