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Sociology Occupations and Professions
by
Kyle Albert, Kim Weeden

Introduction

Sociologists have long been fascinated with occupations and professions, both as forms of social organization and as the locus for other social processes and dynamics. Social control and cohesion, differentiation and inequality, collective action, power and influence, and identity formation are just a few of the topics considered by sociologists studying occupations and professions. Four strands of literature compose the sociology of occupations and professions, broadly defined. One strand tackles the division of labor, with the goal of understanding how positions in the division of labor are differentiated from one another (e.g., professions from other occupations), and how those differences are maintained. A second examines occupational communities, and in particular the relationship between occupational membership and individual behavior. A third strand focuses on the social activity of work itself, including the labor process, employer control of work, alienation and job satisfaction, unionization and its recent discontents, and the rise and fall of skills. Another thread of scholarship considers how occupations become associated with rewards (e.g., pay, prestige, authority, etc). The field of occupations and professions has diversified methodologically in recent years, opening up new modes of inquiry into some of these topics. Indeed, whereas case studies of particular occupations dominated the field in the latter half of the 20th century, major empirical research in the last decade have included ethnographies, comparative case studies, network analyses, and quantitative analyses of survey data. And, although the pace of theoretical innovation in the “professions” literature may have slowed in recent years, the field remains a vibrant arena for studies of globalization, technological change, corporate reorganization and changes in employment practices, and the emergence of “new” types of work (e.g., service work, emotional labor).

Textbooks

Case studies and ethnographies tend to be easily accessible in their original formats, and difficult to translate to textbook form. Given the strong tradition of these methodological approaches in the occupations and professions literatures, many instructors in the field choose not to rely on textbooks. Nevertheless, several textbooks may be suitable for courses on the sociology of work and occupations. Wharton 2005 is the latest incarnation of a popular reader that presents concise excerpts from classic works in the sociology of work. Rothman 1998 and Volti 2008 constitute more traditional textbooks on the sociology of work and occupations, covering vast amounts of literature in an accessible format. Vallas, et al. 2009 is notable for its focus on inequality within the labor market. Finally, instructors looking for a classic text might consider Hughes 1994, a unique compilation of essays that touch on many principal aspects of the sociology of work and occupations.

  • Hughes, Everett C. 1994. On work, race, and the sociological imagination. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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    A compilation of Hughes’s most famous essays, including “Institutional Office and the Person,” and “Good People and Dirty Work,” this was originally published in 1958. The essays, which reflect the Chicago school’s qualitative and interactionist approach to sociology (see also Becker, et al. 1961, cited under Identities, Socialization, and Normative Control; Freidson; and Stouffer, et al. 1949, cited under The Labor Process) are readily accessible to undergraduates. The ideas may now seem self-evident or simplistic, but because of Hughes’s deft writing, they still sparkle.

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  • Rothman, Robert A. 1998. Working: Sociological perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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    In just over three hundred pages, this textbook offers a comprehensive overview of the sociology of work, occupations, and professions. It covers core topics in the sociology of occupations (e.g., professionals and professionalization, skill changes, and bureaucratization) as well as related topics such as occupational prestige, unemployment, and the work-family balance.

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  • Vallas, Steven P., William Finlay, and Amy S. Wharton. 2009. The sociology of work: Structures and inequalities. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This text provides rich historical context on the development of employment policies and paradigms in the United States and a unique chapter on research methods. The bulk of the text is devoted to the occupational structure (e.g., professions and service work) and the implications of work for social inequality.

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  • Volti, Rudi. 2008. An introduction to the sociology of work and occupations. Los Angeles: Pine Forge.

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    As with other Pine Forge Press offerings, this text is designed to provide a concise, easily accessible overview of the field. Its coverage of the social, economic, and political-historical context of the broader societal changes (e.g., globalization, technological change) that affect work make it particularly accessible to undergraduates who lack a sociology background.

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  • Wharton, Amy. 2005. Working in America: Continuity, conflict, and change. 3d ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

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    This reader covers a range of topics related to the American labor market through forty-three excerpts, generally ten to twenty pages in length, from important scholarly and popular works. The excerpts are primarily written by American scholars. Readings range from classical theory to technology, inequality, and service work; their coverage of the American perspective on work and occupations is broad and engaging.

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Data Sources

Most quantitative sociologists of occupations consult data from the major, publicly available labor market and public opinion surveys. In the interest of brevity, we focus on US data in this section, although most other advanced industrialized nations collect similar data sets for their own labor markets. We also offer two references to explicitly comparative data sets: one collected by the International Labor Organization, and another stemming from the Euroccupations project. The Current Population Survey and National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) provide rich data on the characteristics of individual workers, with the NLS offering particularly valuable individual-level time series data. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles and its online successor, O*NET, provide rich data on the characteristics of individual occupations. The General Social Survey, while not specifically a workforce or occupational survey, can also be used to study the characteristics of respondents within particular occupations. While occupation-level labor force data can often be obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, it is sometimes necessary to consult back issues of their monthly bulletin of economic data, Employment and Earnings. Finally, those with an interest in identifying broad themes in the work and occupations literature should see Hodson’s Workplace Ethnography Project.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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    The BLS offers a wealth of current and historical economic indicators on its website, as well as specialized data on such varied topics as strikes, productivity and time use. While most data are specific to the United States, comparative data are also available.

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  • Current Population Survey.

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    One of the more important ongoing surveys on the state of the American labor force, the CPS offers a wealth of data on such topics as unemployment, wages, hours of work, and demographic and community variables.

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    • Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

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      Many scholars of work and occupations have relied on the US Census Bureau’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)’s systematic information on the relative complexity and skill requirements of occupations. It is most useful for comparisons across occupations; although the DOT underwent several updates, it is generally not considered to be a reliable source of data about skill changes over time.

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      • Employment and Earnings.

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        This regular publication of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a wealth of information on labor market indicators, including detailed information on the demographics of the labor force, unionization, and compensation by occupation and industry. While much of its data can be found in interactive tables on the BLS website, some historical data can only be retrieved through archives of this publication.

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      • Euroccupations’ World Database of Occupations.

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        A new database on about 1,600 occupational titles in eight EU countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Includes information about each occupation’s job content, required skills, and competencies. Unlike labor force surveys, the information is collected from experts within the occupations and jobholders, rather than from representative samples of workers.

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        • General Social Survey(GSS).

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          A highly respected, repeated, cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of Americans conducted since 1972. The GSS contains detailed occupation codes for respondents, their spouses, and their parents, as well as hundreds of questions pertaining to social and political attitudes and behaviors, social issues, consumption practices, social network structures, and so forth. It has recently incorporated a longitudinal panel design.

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          • LABORSTA.

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            The International Labor Organization’s primary source for downloadable cross-national data on such topics as unionization, unemployment, contingent labor, and productivity.

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            • National Longitudinal Surveys.

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              This survey, commissioned by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, tracks cohorts from their teenage years onward as they progress through the labor market, providing a useful source of data for studying a variety of topics related to careers and work.

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              • O*NET.

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                The direct successor of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, O*NET compiles census and Department of Labor data on the American occupational structure. Much of the website is designed to help students and job seekers explore career options, but its wealth of data on the skills required for specific occupations is also of value to researchers.

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                • Workplace Ethnography Project.

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                  An online depository of data from the meta-analysis of workplace ethnographies presented in Randy Hodson’s Dignity at Work. Could be useful for research on work conditions and management practices, especially in an international context.

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                  Journals

                  Much of the notable literature on the sociology of occupations and professions is published in mainstream sociology journals. However, a few specialty journals cover work and occupations and typically offer more interdisciplinary and international research and perspectives than the general interest sociology journals. Work and Occupations is the most directly relevant journal to the sociological subfield of work and occupations; Research in the Sociology of Work, published on an annual basis, is also known for a direct emphasis on sociological studies of work. New Technology, Work, and Employment will appeal to researchers with a specific interest in the impact of technological change on employment relations, whereas Work, Employment, and Society publishes a broad range of studies. Additionally, the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography has emphasized studies of the workplace in recent years.

                  Theoretical Foundations

                  Given the centrality of the division of labor to modern industrialized societies, it is no surprise that virtually all of the classic sociological theorists incorporated discussions of occupations and professions into their scholarship, in some cases prominently. See Korczynski, et al. 2006 for an overview of the theoretical approaches that underpin the sociology of occupations and professions. There is, however, no substitute for reading the original statements by the major theorists. Marx 1988 introduced a framework for understanding class conflict that heavily influenced countless subsequent studies of the labor process. Durkheim 1964 and Weber 1997 both concern themselves with the division of labor and its effects on broader social relations; Weber adds a particular focus on the nature of bureaucratic organizations and their consequences for workers. Additionally, we mention Parsons 1939 alongside the traditional classical theorists for his emphasis on the social function of professions.

                  • Durkheim, Émile. 1964. The division of labor in society. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.

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                    Durkheim describes the emergence of a system of specialized occupations as a characteristic of modern societies. In this system, occupations serve as distinct “centers of moral life” that connect the individual and the larger society. The division of labor is essential to Durkheim’s understanding of a transition from organic to mechanical social solidarity. Originally published in 1892.

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                  • Korczynski, Marek, Randy Hodson, and P. K. Edwards, eds. 2006. Social theory at work. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                    An edited volume with chapters that summarize Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Foucault’s approaches to work. Also includes chapters on feminist theory and postmodernism.

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                  • Marx, Karl. 1988. Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844. Amherst, NY: Prometheus.

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                    Many key works in the sociology of occupations are grounded in Marxist theory. The concepts of alienation, deskilling, and the proletarianization of managers and professionals is critical to, for example, later work by Braverman and Burawoy. Originally published in 1844.

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                  • Parsons, Talcott. 1939. The professions and social structure. Social Forces 17.4: 457–467.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2570695Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Parsons addresses the function of the professions in society. He argues that as an ideal type, professionalism does not entail the same self-interest that characterizes the business sector. The specificity of professional knowledge is vital to professional authority; the professional ethos can be summarized as scientific, disinterested, and competent.

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                  • Weber, Max. 1997. The theory of social and economic organization. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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                    Many of Weber’s ideas on ideal types of bureaucratic organization, social closure and inequality, and state-society relations still inform contemporary work on occupations and professions. Originally published in 1920.

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                  Professions

                  The professions occupy a special position in the occupations literature, as they do in the labor market. Indeed, some of the most enduring questions in the sociology of occupations pertain to the professions. What defines professions relative to other occupations (see Definitions)? How do occupations embark on the project of become professions (see Professional Projects)? How do professions defend, maintain, or expand their autonomy or position in the hierarchy of prestige, power, or other rewards, and what is the relationship between licensing and professionalization? To what extent are professions internally stratified (see Intraprofessional Stratification)? To what extent are professions social communities that purvey distinct identities through socialization and normative control (see Identities, Socialization, and Normative Control)? How are professional knowledge, power, prestige, and internal structure shaped by the institutional context? What can a global perspective reveal about globalization, the bureaucratization of professional services, and the diffusion of new types of employment relationships? In this section, we organize the literature on professions according to the primary topic addressed by each author, recognizing that there is substantial overlap and many works address more than one topic.

                  Definitions

                  Sociologists’ efforts to define “the professions” have focused both on the traits that differentiate professions from other occupations, and on the process through which that differentiation occurs. Trait-based approaches emphasize the distinctive nature of professional knowledge, autonomy, status or prestige, workplace organization, or relationship to the state and other societal institutions (e.g., systems of higher education). Process-based approaches focus on the process through which occupations “professionalize,” often emphasizing the ongoing and uncertain competition between occupations over professional knowledge, tasks, status, and so forth. The works identified in this section are seminal contributions to the professions literature, and provide general and wide-reaching arguments about the professions. Abbott 1988 is generally associated with the “professional projects” approach, while Wilensky 1964, Freidson 1988, and Freidson 2001 are more likely to treat the professional status of a given occupation as fixed. Work that focuses on one particular aspect of the professions (e.g., knowledge, relationship with the state, prestige) is covered in subsequent sections.

                  • Abbott, Andrew. 1988. The system of professions: An essay on the division of expert labor. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    A highly influential book that presents a view of the “professional project” as a struggle between occupational groups’ claims to competence over complex knowledge. Professional jurisdictions are fluid, and professions compete for the public trust over those jurisdictions in many venues. Abbott uses the “personal problems” jurisdiction—mental health and illness—as a vivid example of interoccupational competition.

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                  • Freidson, Eliot. 1988. Professional powers: A study of the institutionalization of formal knowledge. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    Covers a range of topics related to the professions, including what constitutes a “professional,” the professions’ governance bodies, professional autonomy, and the perception of professions in the public imagination. Also addresses the question of professional decline, concluding that—although each profession’s circumstances are distinct—the professions are, on balance, maintaining their standing in American society.

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                  • Freidson, Eliot. 2001. Professionalism: The third logic. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    Juxtaposes professionalism as an ideal type against two other “logics” of economic organization, namely Weberian bureaucracy and the unregulated free market (see also Parsons 1939 in Theoretical Foundations). Although Professionalism acknowledges the challenges that professionals face in contemporary American society, it argues that the professional model of organizing certain segments of the labor market has unique advantages that are worth protecting.

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                  • Wilensky, Harold L. 1964. The professionalization of everyone? American Journal of Sociology 70.2: 137–158.

                    DOI: 10.1086/223790Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Considers whether professionalization is a natural process for all occupations and whether the trend of nontraditional professions to seek social closure would continue into the future. Defines a sequence of events that most occupations follow on the road toward professionalization, from the formalization of training through the development of ethical codes.

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                  Professional Projects

                  Professional projects refer to occupations’ efforts to become a profession, a process that entails defining the boundaries around the profession and protecting those boundaries through social exclusion of the unqualified. Whereas Parsons 1939 (see Theoretical Foundations) emphasized the importance of professional boundaries for ensuring that professional knowledge was used in service of the public good, Larson 1979 was one of the early scholarly works to consider the trappings of professional projects (associations, university-based credentials, licensure) as sources of professions’ market power. MacDonald 1995 reminds readers that professions are always under threat from bordering occupational groups and must constantly fight to maintain their status or face deprofessionalization, and thus that professional projects are ongoing. Several case studies document this process; see Khurana 2007 and McKenna 2006 on the professionalization of management and management consulting, respectively. Etzioni 1969 was among the first to recognize the concept of “semi-professions,” that is, occupations that invoke some aspect of the professional project but seem to fail certain subjective criteria that define the professional ideal type. Halliday 1987 focuses on the relationship between the state and the legal profession in the United States, describing a continuous process of negotiation and boundary-setting between profession and state. Parkin 1979 theorized on the foundations of the professional project and likely influenced many of these writers.

                  • Etzioni, Amitai. 1969. The semi-professions and their organizations: Teachers, nurses, and social workers. New York: Free Press.

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                    A frequently cited depiction of the struggles the “semi-professions” have faced in their respective professional projects. Despite its age, the issues described in this book remain central to theoretical debates in the literature.

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                  • Halliday, Terence. 1987. Beyond monopoly: Lawyers, state crises, and professional empowerment. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    Describes the relationship between bar associations and the state, with a particular emphasis on the American (and, especially, Chicago) contexts. Argues that, despite perceptions of self-interest, the bar tends to deploy its resources on the side of strengthening democratic institutions in times of crisis in exchange for the state’s respect of its monopoly powers.

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                  • Khurana, Rakesh. 2007. From higher aims to hired hands: The social transformation of American business schools and the unfilled promise of management as a profession. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                    Outlines the transition of American business schools from for-profit vocational institutes in the 19th century to integral components of the modern research university. Efforts to professionalize management, however, were largely unsuccessful. Khurana describes the combination of structural and cultural barriers that stymied management’s attempts to enact the mechanisms of social closure.

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                  • Larson, Magali S. 1979. The rise of professionalism: A sociological analysis. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                    An important predecessor to Abbott and much of Freidson’s work (see Definitions), Larson was an early adopter of the “professional project” approach, documenting the historical events that led medicine to embark on a quest toward collective social mobility. Emphasizes the development of professional monopolies, particularly through licensing and certification, that create a “patent on a practice” and reduce competition.

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                  • Macdonald, Keith M. 1995. The sociology of the professions. London: SAGE.

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                    Written as a response to Larson 1979, this treatise covers several dimensions of the literature on professions. MacDonald emphasizes professionalization as a continuous and dynamic process. Key points are illustrated through an in-depth description of English accountancy’s professional project.

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                  • McKenna, Christopher. 2006. The world’s newest profession: Management consulting in the twentieth century. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511511622Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Describes the phenomenal growth of management consulting as an occupation and how consultants have built and maintained professional powers, thereby offering an interesting contrast to studies of more traditional professions.

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                  • Parkin, Frank. 1979. Marxism and class theory: A bourgeois critique. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                    An effort to elaborate the Weberian notion of social closure, the process through which different groups in society, such as a particular class or type of occupations, erect barriers that limit the opportunities for entry into that position. Parkin argues that occupations differ in their favored means of closure, with skilled manual occupations favoring trade unions, and professional and managerial occupations favoring credentialing and licensure.

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                  Knowledge and Education

                  A monopoly on a body of expert knowledge defines the social closure practices of ideal-type professionalism. Studies of medicine, a field closely aligned with university education and scientific research, emphasize this theme. Freidson 1970 and Starr 1984 both describe the formation of the medical profession in the United States; Starr 1984 in particular offers an entertaining history of the early days of American medicine and the political forces that led to the institutionalization of medical care. Readers with an interest in the development of professional education may enjoy the contrast between Freidson’s and Starr’s accounts of early medical schools and the history of business schools (see Professional Projects). Brannon 1994 demonstrates the challenges inherent to occupations divided by diverse educational qualifications and the persistent problems “semi-professionals” face in asserting expertise over complex knowledge. Brain 1991 is included to encourage readers to think beyond the stereotypical professions of law, medicine, and management; architecture presents a unique case of professionalization, through the adaptation of design paradigms to social currents.

                  • Brain, David. 1991. Practical knowledge and occupational control: The professionalization of architecture in the United States. Sociological Forum 6.2: 239–268.

                    DOI: 10.1007/BF01114392Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Explores architecture’s struggle to fit into the construction field and describes how it found a niche by emphasizing design. Argues that architecture’s claim to competence in designing buildings is largely cultural. Discusses architects’ struggle to manage the tension between building to meet clients’ needs and generating novel and cutting-edge designs that will yield notoriety within their profession.

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                  • Brannon, Robert L. 1994. Professionalization and work intensification: Nursing in the cost containment era. Work and Occupations 21.2: 157–178.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0730888494021002001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Describes one of nursing’s more notable attempts at professionalization, “task reunification,” in which the distinctions between nurses (e.g., RN, MSN, LPN) are erased in order to make nurses more like the long-term-care equivalent of MDs. However, the new system led to new stresses and pressures, and deeply engrained status distinctions between doctors and nurses could not be overcome.

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                  • Freidson, Eliot. 1970. Profession of medicine: A study in the sociology of applied knowledge. New York: Dodd and Mead.

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                    This highly influential case study of medicine touches on topics ranging from the organization of the medical profession and the social construction of illness. Written during a period of concern about the expanding role of professions, this monograph discusses some of the negative consequences of professionals’ self-regulation and exclusion of qualified lay opinions.

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                  • Starr, Paul. 1984. The social transformation of American medicine. New York: Basic Books.

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                    Analyzes the rise of the medical profession in the United States, from traveling doctors trained by fly-by-night medical schools to the creation of social entitlement programs and managed care. Draws striking parallels between the medical schools and other professional colleges.

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                  Autonomy

                  Another ongoing theme in the professions literature is professional autonomy, and in particular the function it serves in the professions’ place in society and the threat it faces as professional work becomes embedded in large and bureaucratic organizations (e.g., health maintenance organizations, or HMOs). Hall 1968 was an early contributor to the debate on the role of professionals in a bureaucratic society, arguing that professions can benefit from the institutional resources that bureaucratic organizations provide. Leicht and Fennell 2001 promote the thesis that professional autonomy is eroding with time, while conveying a controversial argument that managerial prerogative is on the rise. However, Scott 2008 gives hope to proponents of professional autonomy by emphasizing the power that professions and their members can still wield in large organizations. Fouriner 2001 adds the perspective of semi-professions and other occupations, noting that such groups often cling to the word “professional” in defining themselves, while recognizing that some of this push toward professional identification may be driven by bureaucratic organizations themselves. Finally, Abbott 2005 lends a macro-level perspective to this discussion, addressing the agency of professionals as a group relative to the state, universities, and civil society.

                  • Abbott, Andrew. 2005. Linked ecologies: States and universities as environments for professions. Sociological Theory 23.3: 245–274.

                    DOI: 10.1111/j.0735-2751.2005.00253.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Describes the interconnectedness between states, universities, and professions, all three of which exert pressures on and shape each other. In a “hostage model,” events in one “ecology” have impacts on neighboring ecologies. Describes some issues, such as occupational licensing, as “hinges” in which the interests of multiple ecologies unite.

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                  • Fouriner, Valerie. 2001. The appeal to professionalism. Sociological Review 47.2: 280–307.

                    DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.00173Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Notes the trend of occupations that have little in common with the sociological definition of “professional” (e.g., security guards) referring to themselves as professionals. Suggests that this is part of a new strategy on the part of employers to manage their workers by encouraging self-regulation.

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                  • Hall, Richard H. 1968. Professionalization and bureaucratization. American Sociological Review 33.1: 92–104.

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                    Hall finds that scores on an index of bureaucracy tend to be negatively related to measures of professionalism, although he challenges the notion that bureaucracy is in and of itself in conflict with professionalism. Indeed, he argues that some bureaucracy is conducive to the professional functions of large organizations.

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                  • Leicht, Kevin, and Mary L. Fennell. 2001. Professional work: A sociological approach. Oxford: Blackwell.

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                    Argues that professionals and managers are trading places with respect to their autonomy and influence within the workplace. Supported with ample, if somewhat disconnected, graphs and tables describing the changing nature of professional work and workplaces. Also provides a useful reading list (independent of the bibliography) of case studies sorted by occupation.

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                  • Scott, Richard. 2008. Lords of the dance: Professionals as institutional agents. Organization Studies 29.2: 219–238.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0170840607088151Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Emphasizes that professionals remain vital agents for institutional change in large organizations. While acknowledging the decline of “social trustee professionalism” and increasing managerial authority, professions have a unique place in society as “definers, interpreters, and appliers of institutional authority” (p. 223).

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                  Licensing

                  A number of scholars have focused on occupational licensure as one of the primary means through which occupations, and in particular the professions, protect their boundaries. As Larson 1979 (see Professional Projects) notes, licenses are particularly important in that they embed the professionalization project in the legal apparatus of the state and represent a “patent on a practice.” Zhou 1993 and Law and Kim 2005 describe how occupational licensing diffused throughout the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Kleiner 2000 offers a contemporary snapshot of the role of occupational licensing in the American labor market and its effects on the pricing and quality of services. Weeden 2002 demonstrates that licensure, along with other closure strategies, affects occupational pay.

                  • Kleiner, Morris M. 2000. Occupational licensing. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14.4: 189–202.

                    DOI: 10.1257/jep.14.4.189Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Reviews the literature on the impacts of state-level occupational licensing requirements. While licensing tends to positively affect the earnings of those who hold licenses, there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that licensing improves the quality of services for consumers.

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                  • Law, Mark T., and Sukkoo Kim. 2005. Specialization and regulation: The rise of professionals and the emergence of occupational licensing regulations. Journal of Economic History 65.3: 723–756.

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                    Intriguing historical study that challenges the traditional view that occupational licensing exists primarily as a closure mechanism. Rather, this analysis suggests that occupational licensing in the United States was motivated mostly by a genuine desire for consumer protection in the Progressive Era, which roughly overlaps with the time frame of Zhou’s study.

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                  • Weeden, Kim A. 2002. Why do some occupations pay more than others? Social closure and earnings inequality in the United States. American Journal of Sociology 108.1: 55–101.

                    DOI: 10.1086/344121Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Elaborates the concept of social closure to identify how it affects occupational earnings. Documents the distribution of closure strategies—such as licensure, voluntary certification, credentialing, unionization, and association representation—across the occupational structure. Links these data to individual-level wage data, and shows that occupational closure has a significant positive effect on earnings.

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                  • Zhou, Xueguang. 1993. Occupational power, state capacities, and the diffusion of licensing in the American states: 1890 to 1950. American Sociological Review 58.4: 536–552.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2096075Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Offers an institutionalist perspective on the spread of occupational licensing among US states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. State power was positively related to implementing licensing of personal service occupations but was negatively related to licensing regimes for business occupations. Concludes that no single abstract model explains why states impose licensing requirements.

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                  Identities, Socialization, and Normative Control

                  Whereas much of the work in the professions literature focuses on how professions interact “outward” with the state, the public, and employing organizations, another strand of literature focuses on how professionals are trained, learn professional values, and come to see themselves as professionals. Goode 1957 was early to recognize the existence of subcultures within professions, a finding that likely influenced Becker, et al. 1961, a study of medical students, a few years later. Caplow 1954 and Becker, et al. 1961 explore the process of producing professionals, Caplow 1954 by examining how social roles in occupations are created, and Becker, et al. 1961 by offering an intriguing account of the medical school environment. Fine 1996 describes the socialization of restaurant cooks and chefs, who share both common work environments and cultural characteristics, into the sort of occupational community defined by Van Maanen and Barley 1984. Schleef 2006 shows how professional socialization includes legitimizing one’s elite status.

                  • Becker, Howard S., Blanche Geer, Everett C. Hughes, and Anselm L. Strauss.1961. Boys in white: Student culture in medical school. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    An early systematic study of professional education that profiles a typical medical school in the 1950s. Even though the profession has changed (and medical students are no longer primarily “boys”), Becker offers fascinating insights on how doctors are socialized and how the internal stratification of the profession begins from the moment students try on their cleanly pressed, white lab coats.

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                  • Caplow, Theodore. 1954. The sociology of work. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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                    A classic in the sociology of occupations and professions. Addresses a variety of topics, ranging from the effect of work on the family to the emergence of new occupations. Is arguably best known for identifying how recruits into a new occupation are socialized through specialized training programs.

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                  • Fine, Gary Alan. 1996. Justifying work: Occupational rhetorics as resources in restaurant kitchens. Administrative Science Quarterly 41.1: 91–115.

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                    An intriguing and entertaining study of the world of restaurant cooks and chefs. Describes the variation within what many think of as a single occupation; cooking is a highly stratified world whose inhabitants draw on a range of “occupational rhetorics” as sources of identity. Cooks integrate aspects of laborers, artists, managers, and professionals into unique identities that defy a single category.

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                  • Goode, William J. 1957. Community within a community: The professions. American Sociological Review 22.2: 194–200.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2088857Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Defines professions as “communities” characterized by different types of internal relationships and workplace cultures relative to nonprofessional occupations. Profession workplaces are, for example, collegial and nonhierarchical rather than competitive and hierarchical. Also notable for one of the earliest discussions of internal fragmentation within professions.

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                  • Schleef, Debra J. 2006. Managing elites: Professional socialization in law and business school. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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                    Using interviews and observations of students in elite professional schools, Schleef shows how elite professional training involves not only learning how to act and think like the elite, but to believe that one deserves a position of privilege in a system of extensive inequality. Although there is some variation across students, most are funneled into high-status subfields.

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                  • Van Maanen, John, and Stephen R. Barley. 1984. Occupational communities: Culture and control in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior 6:287–365.

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                    Defines an occupational community as a group of people that share a common understanding of what they do, draw their identity from work, and share similar values about work. These communities sustain unique work cultures, including behaviors and justifying rhetorics. Describes the conditions under which occupational communities form and argues that these communities are essential to autonomy and self-control.

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                  Intraprofessional Stratification

                  A major theme in recent scholarship is the emergence of fault lines within occupations and professions. Bucher and Strauss 1961 developed one of the early models of fragmentation within a profession, which Abbott 1981 elaborated twenty years later. Studies of intraprofessional stratification often feature lawyers, perhaps due to the wide array of specialties and employment settings in which attorneys practice. Heinz and Laumann 1982 and Heinz, et al. 2005 document the findings of two major surveys of the Chicago Bar; the 1982 report first identified the emergence of “two hemispheres” emerging as personal-client lawyers diverged from their corporate and institutional-oriented counterparts on several characteristics, a trend that intensified in following years. Abel 1986 saw similar patterns emerging across the entire American legal profession in the 1970s and 1980s. Additionally, see Kay and Hagan 2003 for an in-depth exploration of the stratification of trust within the legal profession.

                  • Abbott, Andrew. 1981. Status and strain in the professions. American Journal of Sociology 86.4: 819–835.

                    DOI: 10.1086/227318Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Identifies a paradox of status in the professions: the segments of a profession that the public holds in highest regard are often the segments held in lowest regard by the members of the profession. Argues that “professional regression,” wherein professions retreat from front-line, client-centered work to “purer” tasks, harms the status of professions, as the best talent hides from public view.

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                  • Abel, Richard. 1986. The transformation of the American legal profession. Law and Society Review 20.1: 7–17.

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                    Foreshadows some of the findings of Urban Lawyers on the fracturing of the legal profession into distinct spheres, divided largely according to the nature of attorneys’ clients.

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                  • Bucher, Rue, and Anselm Strauss. 1961. Professions in process. Social Forces 66.4: 325–344.

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                    Describes a model of institutional change in the professions in which segments form and mold a profession’s character.

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                  • Heinz, John P., and Edward Laumann. 1982. Chicago lawyers: The social structure of the bar. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                    Reports results from a study of several hundred lawyers in Chicago. Presents a comprehensive picture of the legal profession. First notices the bar splitting into two “hemispheres” between those with a public service and/or personal client orientation relative to those serving corporate clients.

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                  • Heinz, John P., Robert Nelson, Rebecca Sandefur, and Edward O. Laumann. 2005. Urban lawyers: The new social structure of the bar. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    A follow-up to the original Chicago Lawyers study (originally conducted in 1975), Urban Lawyers introduces extensive data from a 1995 survey to document the increasing diversity of the bar—not just along racial and gender lines, but also with respect to prestige stratification, political views, career trajectories, and job satisfaction, among other measures.

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                  • Kay, F. M., and John Hagan. 2003. Building trust: Social capital, distributive justice, and loyalty to the firm. Law and Social Inquiry 28.2: 483–519.

                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-4469.2003.tb00199.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Describes the tight relationship between trust and loyalty to law firms. Perhaps not surprisingly, lawyers who are especially high earners and have high levels of job satisfaction place more trust in their firms and in each other. The result is differing levels of firm loyalty.

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                  Global Perspective

                  Recent scholarship in the professions has begun to address how the national social and political contexts affect professions and professionalization projects. Neal and Morgan 2000, Fourcade 2009, and Krause 1996 are detailed studies of how national social and political features shape the “local” character of professions. Fielding and Portwood 1981 also explores how different systems of government give professions distinct characters across countries, and Field 1988 provides a vivid portrait of one extreme on the continuum of state influence. Wilsford 1991 and Immergut 1992 are mentioned here as representative of studies that examine the success of doctors and other medical professions’ professionalization projects in the context of the European welfare states. The effect of globalization on professions, which have traditionally been relatively isolated by national borders, forces scholars to consider professionalization in a supranational context. This remains a high-growth area in the discipline, particularly in light of broader economic and geopolitical trends (e.g., globalization, regionalization, market liberalization, transitions to capitalism) that presumably affect the professions themselves as much as the bureaucratization of professional services. Fourcade 2009 is a model in this area, offering a vivid depiction of the divergence in the economics profession between the United States, Britain, and France over the course of the 20th century as a function of national context.

                  • Field, Mark. 1988. The position of the Soviet physician: The bureaucratic professional. Milbank Quarterly 66: 182–201.

                    DOI: 10.2307/3349922Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    At first glance, the Soviet Union presents an extreme case of state intervention in the professions; however, Field notes that doctors were generally left to fend for themselves with respect to day-to-day patient care. An interesting contrast to the literature on the American and European medical professions.

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                  • Fielding, A. G., and D. Portwood. 1981. Professions and the state: Towards a typology of bureaucratic professions. Sociological Review 28.1: 23–53.

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                    Suggests that willingness to work with the state is essential for the success of professional projects. Describes how education lecturers and opticians met dramatically different fates in the British context on account of differing approaches to managing their relationships with the state.

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                  • Fourcade, Marion. 2009. Economists and societies: Discipline and profession in the United States, Britain, and France, 1890s to 1990s. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                    Overview of how the discipline of economics—and the profession that its practitioners have built—diverged over the course of the 20th century in the United States, United Kingdom, and France. In each case, economics was largely defined by its relationship with the state and the business community, which led economists to vastly different methodological and substantive orientations.

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                  • Immergut, Ellen M. 1992. Health politics: Interests and institutions in Western Europe. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                    Describes the central role of professions in determining the fate of national health insurance systems in Sweden, Switzerland, and France. In all three contexts, the power of professions is limited by the nature of political institutions. Makes predictions about the future of health care in the United States that were tested in the 2010 package of health insurance reforms.

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                  • Krause, Elliott A. 1996. Death of the guilds: Professions, states, and the advance of capitalism, 1930 to the present. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                    A comparative study of the changing societal role of the professions in the United States and four European countries, focusing on the impact of Europeanization. Notes that professions are increasingly challenged by the forces of capitalism; everywhere, Krause suggests, professions are losing their monopoly power.

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                  • Neal, Mark, and John Morgan. 2000. The professionalization of everyone? A comparative study of the development of professions in the United Kingdom and Germany. European Sociological Review 16.1: 9–27.

                    DOI: 10.1093/esr/16.1.9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    One of the stronger intra-European comparative studies of the professionalization process, Neal and Morgan demonstrate the pivotal role state intervention can play in the formation of professions. Devotes some attention to the emergence of “euro-professions” as the European Union synchronizes regulations and promotes mobility across the continent.

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                  • Wilsford, David. 1991. Doctors and the state: The politics of health care in France and the United States. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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                    Compares health care reform in the United States and France, with an emphasis on institutional factors that affect the political strength of the health professions. Argues that the failures of major health reform efforts in the United States have historically resulted from a stronger and more unified medical profession that, despite the forces of diversification, maintains greater cohesion than reform-minded politicians.

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                  Occupational Cultures and Communities

                  Two important strands of the occupational literature concern the interpersonal ties and commonalities between employees at both the occupational and organizational levels. We first turn our attention to Bourdieu 1984 and successors who attempt to apply the concept of habitus to explain the role of occupations as purveyors of culture—that is, how occupations reflect and constrain individual behavior, as well as the potential for occupations to shape (or be selected on the basis of) individual political beliefs. We also list some of the more notable sociological works on organization-level structures and cultures, which highlight the impact that employers can have on individual workers and their careers.

                  • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Translated by Richard Nice. London: Routledge.

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                    Argues that occupations are differentiated by the amount and type of capital (economic or cultural) of their incumbents. Each occupation has a characteristic habitus, or socially constituted set of dispositions and tastes, which in turn drives behavior and consumption practices. Bourdieu’s Distinction was enormously influential and sparked a wave of empirical research that focused on consumption and lifestyles.

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                  Purveyors of Culture

                  While often lumped into the cannon of sociological theory, one of the lasting accomplishments of Pierre Bourdieu’s extraordinary career was to launch a wave of research on occupations as purveyors of distinct cultural practices. Petersen and Simkus 1992 follows directly in Bourdieu’s footsteps in an examination of musical taste, while Lamont 2002 continues the tradition in a study of working-class values from a comparative perspective. Brint 1996, and Gross and Fosse 2010 add a special focus on the relationship between occupational choices and political views; while Brint 1996 suggests that the “two hemispheres” noted in Heinz and Laumann 1982 and Heinz, et al. 2005 (both cited under Intraprofessional Stratification) may be a broader professional phenomenon, Gross and Fosse 2010 suggests that much of one profession’s “liberalness” can be accounted for on the basis of its practitioners’ demographic characteristics.

                  • Brint, Steven. 1996. In an age of experts: The changing role of professionals in politics and public life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                    Argues that American professionals are becoming fragmented in their social and political views. While there may be a natural bias for professionals to be liberal due to the high proportion of professionals employed by the state (regardless of how one defines “professional”), increasingly those in the “helping” professions are diverging from their counterparts with more ties to the corporate world.

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                  • Gross, Neil, and Ethan Fosse. 2010. Why are professors liberal?.

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                    Echoing some of Brint’s insights, this working paper finds that many of professors’ political views can be attributed to their position in society (e.g., demographic variables, income, geographic distribution) rather than anything intrinsic to the profession of college teaching.

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                  • Lamont, Michele. 2002. The dignity of working men: Morality and the boundaries of race, class, and immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                    Drawing on detailed interviews with members of the French and American working classes, Lamont identifies both congruent and divergent working-class values shaped by cultural factors and historical trajectories.

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                  • Peterson, Richard A., and Albert Simkus. 1992. How musical tastes mark occupational status groups. In Cultivating differences: Symbolic boundaries and the making of inequality. Edited by Michèle Lamont and Marcel Fournier, 152–186. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    Introduces the concept of “cultural omnivores” in describing the reification of social categorizations on the basis of taste. Heavily influenced by Bourdieu.

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                  Organization-Level Structures and Cultures

                  Corporate culture, the structure of internal labor markets, and their potential to influence productivity have long been phenomena of interest to management scholars, and sociologists have made important contributions to this literature. In a manner that will seem familiar to those who have already read the key works on emotional labor, both Kunda 1992 and Jackall 1989 describe the impact that corporate culture can have on employees, building firm loyalty but sometimes imposing an emotional price. Bielby and Bielby 1994 describes the consequences for workers of a change in the structure of the motion picture industry in the 1990s. Finally, Barley and Kunda 2001 makes an eloquent case for more rigorous studies of the implications of new models of corporate organization on the labor process.

                  • Barley, Stephen R., and Gideon Kunda. 2001. Bringing work back in. Organization Science 12.1: 76–95.

                    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.12.1.76.10122Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Argues for a revitalization of sociological studies of the labor process to evaluate the impact of postbureaucratic patterns of work organization. Suggests that organizational scholars could do a better job of integrating insights from the sociology of work and occupations.

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                  • Bielby, William T., and Denise D. Bielby. 1994. Organizational mediation of project-based labor markets: Talent agencies and the case of screenwriters. American Sociological Review 64.1: 64–85.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2657278Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Describes how the labor market for contract-based writers in Hollywood changed as talent agencies redefined their role from representing clients to managing projects. As they managed projects, talent agencies lost interest in securing the best possible contracts for their clients. Suggests that social scientists need to emphasize the role of the firm in shaping occupational labor markets.

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                  • Jackall, Robert. 1989. Moral mazes: The world of corporate managers. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                    Describes how organizational culture can and does shape individual behavior, using the case of corporate managers. Especially relevant to those with an interest in how managers balance moral concerns with the corporation’s interest in maximizing surplus value.

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                  • Kunda, Gideon. 1992. Engineering culture: Control and commitment in a high-tech corporation. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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                    An important study of “strong culture,” i.e., organizational cultures characterized by intense company loyalty, and its potential impacts on employees. While strong cultures were often celebrated for the informal managerial control they enabled, Kunda documents some of the costs for employees, including feelings of inauthenticity, demotivation, and burnout.

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                  The Labor Process

                  The nature of work in industrialized countries changed dramatically over the course of the 20th century. Technology brought sweeping changes to the labor process, although scholars have had vastly different perspectives on the consequences of innovation. Frederick Winslow Taylor and his studies of industrial efficiency (Taylor 1919) had a dramatic impact on the American workplace (where “Taylorism” came to describe an entire philosophy of management) and the academic world. In the early half of the 20th century, the sociology of work and occupations was heavily focused on micro-level studies of group norms and other sources of informal social structure (e.g., Mayo 1933; Stouffer, et al. 1949), often with the goal of identifying the sources of solidarity. Later studies of the labor process were strongly influenced by Marxism, and the assumption that macro-level forces (e.g., the dynamics of capitalism) affected the social organization of work. Burawoy 1982, an analysis of the labor process informed by extensive participant observation, describes how different approaches are used to convince employees to work for wages that do not reflect the full market value of their products. Burawoy describes how workers play games to maximize their personal income while minimizing effort. Some of his former students have elaborated the approach to encompass very different work settings, such as Sallaz 2009, a study of casino dealers. Hodson 2001 presents a unique meta-analysis of the literature on the labor process and the effects of the eternal struggle between labor and capital on workers. In addition to these foundational studies on the labor process, we provide greater detail on the literature on technological change and deskilling, service work and emotional labor, nonstandard work arrangements, post-Fordism, and labor unions in their respective subsections.

                  • Burawoy, Michael. 1982. Manufacturing consent: Changes in the labor process under monopoly capitalism. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    Classic neo-Marxian study of the labor process. Describes how workers play a game of “making out,” wherein they try to meet productivity quotas while exerting themselves as little as possible. Argues that collective bargaining, piece-rate compensation, and internal labor markets are tactics used by employers to give workers an illusion of control and to gain their consent for the appropriation of their surplus value.

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                  • Hodson, Randy. 2001. Dignity at work. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511499333Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    A rare attempt at meta-analysis in the sociology of professions and occupations, Hodson draws on a wide variety of ethnographies from both sides of the Atlantic to identify the circumstances that aid and hinder workers in their quest for dignity at work.

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                  • Mayo, Elton. 1933. The human problems of an industrial civilization. London: Macmillan.

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                    Often identified as the study that gave rise to the sociology of work and occupations, Mayo showed the relationship between work group’s norms, the social position of the work group in the organization, and their level of output.

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                  • Sallaz, Jeffrey J. 2009. The labor of luck: Casino capitalism in the United States and South Africa. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                    A fascinating ethnography of work as a casino dealer in Las Vegas and South Africa. Describes how employment relations and game play differ in the two settings, and shows how these stem from differences in tipping. South African casinos are further shaped by the legacy of apartheid, and tense race relations generate a disconnect between managers and their workers.

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                  • Stouffer, Samuel A., Arthur A. Lumsdaine, Marion Harper Lumsdaine, Robin M. Williams, Jr., M. Brewster Smith, Irving L. Janis, Shirley A. Star, and Leonard S. Cottrell Jr. 1949. The American soldier: Combat and its aftermath. Vol. 2, Studies in social psychology in World War II. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                    A classic study of group norms within occupations from the anthropology-influenced “social relations” tradition. Stouffer and his colleagues showed that soldiers evaluate how well they are doing relative to the norms of the group, thereby coining the term “relative deprivation.” One of the most extensive and comprehensive efforts to survey and document the “occupation” of soldiering.

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                  • Taylor, Fredrick Winslow. 1919. The principles of scientific management. New York: Harper and Brothers.

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                    Arguably the foundation of the professional project of management and a document of vital importance for students of the labor process, this is a short but essential historical text that set the stage for the use of research and technology to improve industrial productivity.

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                  Technological Change and Deskilling

                  Braverman 1974, a treatise on the contribution of technological change to deskilling, triggered a flurry of scholarship in the 1980s and early 1990s on the effect of technological change on the skills required of workers. Among Braverman’s critics were Attewell 1990, Form 1987, and Wood 1987, all of which emphasized the possibility for new technologies to require workers to update their skill sets, offsetting any loss of skill that comes through mechanization. Spenner 1983 also diverged from Braverman’s view of deskilling as a consequence of class conflict, seeking common ground by arguing that technology’s positive and negative effects on skill tend to cancel each other out. This topic has been largely neglected in the intervening years, possibly because the debate on the effect of technology on skill has reached the conclusion that the effect differs across occupations and sectors. Although deskilling describes some sectors of the labor force, most agree that its impact on the overall distribution of skills in society is diminished by the need for workers trained to use new technologies. Wright and Dwyer 2003 takes a macro-level perspective, considering the impact of changes in technology on the overall structure of the labor market.

                  • Attewell, Paul. 1990. What is skill? Work and Occupations 17.4: 422–448.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0730888490017004003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Describes four major schools of thought on skill. Discusses the weaknesses of many of our current measures of skill, while reminding readers of the dangers inherent in overlooking the role of skill in studies of work and occupations.

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                  • Braverman, Harry. 1974. Labor and monopoly capital: The degradation of work in the twentieth century. New York: Monthly Review Press.

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                    A neo-Marxist treatise on the effects of scientific management on the labor process and the use of technology for deskilling and surveillance. Describes the negative effects of technology for assembly-line workers, who struggle to keep up with the increasing pace of work. Argues that managers intentionally exclude workers from industrial planning because of inherent class biases.

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                  • Form, William. 1987. On the degradation of skills. Annual Review of Sociology 13:29–47.

                    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.so.13.080187.000333Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Argues that, on balance, technological change did not significantly degrade workers’ skills over the 20th century. While Form finds some validity to Braverman’s argument that scientific management led to deskilling, he argues that such deskilling was probably overshadowed in the larger context of the overall labor market by technological advances that required workers to upgrade their skills.

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                  • Spenner, Kenneth. 1983. Deciphering Prometheus: Temporal change in the skill level of work. American Sociological Review 48.6: 824–837.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2095328Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Suggests mixed effects of technology on skill, such that skill upgrading cancels out any skill downgrading. Uses data from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (cited under Data Sources) to consider longitudinal changes in skill, but stops short of definitive conclusions.

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                  • Wood, Stephen. 1987. The deskilling debate, new technology, and work organization. Acta Sociologica 30.1: 3–24.

                    DOI: 10.1177/000169938703000101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Another critique of Braverman, suggesting that he tends to oversimplify some of the changes in the skill level of work.

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                  • Wright, Erik Olin, and Rachel E. Dwyer. 2003. The patterns of job expansions in the USA: A comparison of the 1960s and 1990s. Socio-Economic Review 1:289–325.

                    DOI: 10.1093/soceco/1.3.289Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Empirical study of the expansion of jobs in the 1960s and 1990s. Shows “asymmetrical polarization”: strong but decelerating growth in the highest quintile of jobs ranked by median earnings, which are typically high-skill occupations, extremely limited growth in the middle, and moderate but accelerating growth of jobs in the bottom quintile.

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                  Service Work and Emotional Labor

                  Service work and emotional labor are growing in importance as the service sector of the economy expands. Hochschild 1985 was pioneering for its description of how service workers can come to embrace “deep acting” in the tradition of Erving Goffman’s classic studies of impression management. Leidner 1993 was one of the first works from a sociologist to study the unique nature of the labor process in service industriesby examining how the use of routines has changed the service experience for both workers and consumers. Ashforth and Humphrey 1993, and Thompson, et al. 2001 are both important contributions to the literature for their integration of emotional labor into commentary on larger management paradigms, while George 2008 is one of the more notable case studies in an expanding service field. Sherman 2007 provides a rich ethnographic account of how low-wage workers identify with their far wealthier customers in luxury hotels. Finally, Frenkel, et al. 1999 is notable for its focus on white-collar service work in the context of globalization.

                  • Ashforth, Blake, and Ronald H. Humphrey. 1993. Emotional labor in service roles: The role of identity. Academy of Management Review 88.1: 88–115.

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                    Addresses the debates over whether “emotional labor” is inherently dishonest to the customer and whether that dishonesty has detrimental effects on emotional laborers. Makes the case that the identification with one’s work that comes with “emotional labor” can be positive, making work more enjoyable and interesting for the employee.

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                  • Frenkel, Stephen, Marek Korczynski, Karen Shire, and May Tam. 1999. On the front line: Organization of work in the information economy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                    An ambitious study of the organization of front-line service work in the United States, Japan, and Australia. Argues that positions involving direct customer contact have become more important in the globalized “information economy,” but the way front-line service work is organized differs across countries that take different approaches to management and across different organizational forms.

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                  • George, Molly. 2008. Interactions in expert service work: Demonstrating professionalism in personal training. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 37.1: 108–131.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0891241607309498Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Assesses personal training as a form of emotional labor. Argues that trainers must continually negotiate boundaries with their clients and define their roles through service interaction. Suggests that women may be more effective at manipulating emotion on the job than men.

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                  • Hochschild, Arlie R. 1985. The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                    A landmark study of how service workers, using the example of flight attendants, can be trained to provide emotional labor and come to internalize the “deep acting” they are encouraged to perform. Hochschild’s study, her concept of emotional labor, and the concerns it raises about the loss of authenticity in service interactions remain vital to the literature on the sociology of service work.

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                  • Leidner, Robin. 1993. Fast food, fast talk: Service work and the routinization of everyday life. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                    Through in-depth case studies of a McDonald’s and a major insurance company’s sales division, Leidner describes how talking and acting in routines has changed the nature of service work. While some have derided routines as deskilling at its worst, Leidner describes how such routines can make life easier for both service workers, and customers, who benefit from more efficient service.

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                  • Sherman, Rachel. 2007. Class acts: Service and inequality in luxury hotels. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                    Documents the author’s extensive fieldwork in luxury hotels, where a primarily low-wage workforce pampers high-status guests. In an analysis inspired by Burawoy, Sherman offers interesting accounts of how workers maximize tips and the surprisingly sympathetic attitudes many workers hold about their guests.

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                  • Thompson, Paul, Chris Warhurst, and George Callaghan. 2001. Ignorant theory and knowledgeable workers: Interrogating the connections between knowledge, skills and services. Journal of Management Studies 38.7: 923–942.

                    DOI: 10.1111/1467-6486.00266Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Bridges the divide between the literature on skills and emotional labor, discussing the qualitative differences between the skills valued in emotional service work and the technical or academic skills emphasized in the literature on deskilling. Notes that the interpersonal skills and emotion management that the labor market increasingly demands are difficult to define, posing a challenge to policymakers.

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                  Nonstandard Work Arrangements

                  Data from the Current Population Survey in the United States and various datasets from the International Labor Organization (see Data Sources) show an increase in “nonstandard” work arrangements that differ from the traditional full-time, indefinite employment contract: examples include part-time, contract, itinerant, day labor, and temporary employment. Much of the literature suggests that the growth of these new forms of service work can be disadvantageous for workers, Kalleberg, et al. 2000 being representative of this line of research. Kalleberg 2000 provides probably the most comprehensive literature review on this topic to date. Readers with an interest in the professions will gravitate toward the in-depth analysis of part-time arrangements in the legal profession by Epstein 1999, while those with a particular interest in the technology sector may appreciate the analysis of Barley and Kunda 2004.

                  • Barley, Stephen, and Gideon Kunda. 2004. Gurus, hired guns, and warm bodies: Itinerant experts in a knowledge economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                    An extensive ethnographic account of temporary workers in the high-tech sector. Focuses on temporary workers in the higher end of the income and skill distribution.

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                  • Epstein, Cynthia F. 1999. The part-time paradox: Time norms, professional lives, family, and gender. New York: Routledge.

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                    Using the legal profession as an example of a “greedy occupation,” explores the consequences of the expansion of part-time employment in the American workplaces. Argues that part-time employment in a professional context is rarely part-time in terms of work hours, carries considerable stigma, reinforces gender stereotypes, and reduces opportunities for promotion.

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                  • Kalleberg, Arne. 2000. Nonstandard employment relations: Part-time, temporary, and contract work. Annual Review of Sociology 26:341–365.

                    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.26.1.341Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Interdisciplinary literature review on various aspects of nonstandard employment, including job quality, career paths, and long-term trends. Provides a broad overview of the field.

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                  • Kalleberg, Arne, Barbara F. Reskin, and Ken Hudson. 2000. Bad jobs in America: Standard and nonstandard employment relations and job quality in the United States. American Sociological Review 65.2:256–278.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2657440Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Widely cited exemplar of the growing empirical literature on the pay and benefits of nonstandard jobs. Shows that nonstandard employment contracts, even within a particular occupation, offer worse pay and benefits than standard contracts.

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                  Post-Fordism

                  A variety of different approaches to studying changes in the American workplace can be grouped under the banner of “post-Fordism,” or the demise of traditional assembly-line production. Some, such as Amin 1995 and Kumar 1995, see post-Fordism through the lens of postmodern social theory. However, more applied work on the adoption of “high performance” work systems, lean production, and more flexible forms of work organization are also very much a part of the post-Fordist literature. Casey 1995, for example, argues that organizational redesign has blurred occupational boundaries and altered how workers derive meaning and solidarity from work. The empirical work of Appelbaum and Batt 1994 takes a comparative view, considering such national case studies as Japanese lean production and Swedish sociotechnical systems as possible alternatives to the Fordist assembly line. Osterman 2000 presents a study of the factors affecting implementation of “high performance” work systems in the United States. Vallais 2003 provides an ethnographic case study of the implementation of new production processes in four paper mills. Smith 1997 paints a broad overview of the field. A general reader, Beynon and Nichols 2006, is recommended for those wishing to pursue this topic.

                  • Amin, Ash, ed. 1995. Post-Fordism: A reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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                    An extensive volume featuring contributions from many social scientists, Post-Fordism: A Reader considers whether the “Fordist” era of mass assembly-line production is dead and, if so, what alternative modes of economic organization may be viable.

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                  • Appelbaum, Eileen, and Rosemary Batt. 1994. The new American workplace: Transforming work systems in the United States. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                    A thorough literature review of studies of high-performance work systems in the United States, Japan, Germany, Sweden, and Italy. Emphasizes the diversity of organizational forms emerging around the world in the wake of the Fordist era, each with unique advantages and drawbacks.

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                  • Beynon, Huw, and Theo Nichols, eds. 2006. Patterns of work in the post-Fordist era. Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

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                    An Anglo-centric survey of fifty-five journal articles published in recent years on changes in the labor process occurring under the banner of “post-Fordism” and comparative approaches to the organization of work. Note that this is a two-volume compilation of previously published journal articles with a brief introduction by the editors.

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                  • Casey, Catherine. 1995. Work, self, and society: After industrialism. London: Routledge.

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                    Argues that changes in the social organization of work, including teambuilding, participatory decisionmaking, and organizational restructuring, have fundamentally altered the nature of work under postindustrialism. In particular, organizational redesign has blurred occupational boundaries, such that workers’ sense of self stems from their project or team rather than from their occupation.

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                  • Kumar, Krishan. 1995. From post-industrial to post-modern society: New theories of the contemporary world. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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                    Draws connections between the related perspectives of post-Fordism, postmodernism, and the information society. Useful for those looking to situate the emergence of new production systems in broader social theories.

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                  • Osterman, Paul. 2000. Work reorganization in an era of restructuring: Trends in diffusion and effects on employee welfare. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 53.2:179–197.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2696072Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    An attempt to gauge the spread of high-performance work organization (HPWO) practices throughout the economy, Osterman found that HPWO adoption tended to be associated with layoffs and other signs of distress in firms.

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                  • Smith, Vicki. 1997. New forms of work organization. Annual Review of Sociology 23:315–339.

                    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.23.1.315Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    A general literature review covering many of the recent developments in the organization of industrial production and service work.

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                  • Vallais, Stephen P. 2003. Why teamwork fails: Obstacles to workplace change in four manufacturing plants. American Sociological Review 68.2: 223–250.

                    DOI: 10.2307/1519767Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    A notable analysis of production regimes. Vallais examines the implementation of new workplace paradigms connected to post-Fordism, such as self-directed teams, in four paper mills.

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                  Labor Unions

                  While this bibliography can only scratch the surface of the interdisciplinary literature on labor unions, we recommend several works on the changing role of unions in the American labor market written by sociologists and other social scientists that could be a springboard for further research into the topic. Rosenfeld 2006 paints a grim picture of the future of the American labor movement; the comparative analysis by Western 1997 shows the institutional conditions (that the US lacks) that favor unions. Voss and Sherman 2000 and Freeman, et al. 2005 offer a more sanguine view of US unionism, pointing to revitalized organizational structures and new institutions to protect workers. Milkman 2006 brings a unique focus on the role of culture and immigration to the study of work and labor. Southworth and Stepan-Norris 2009 attempts to chart a new course for sociologists studying labor unions, suggesting a renewed emphasis on longitudinal data collection. Rabban 1991 bridges the literature on unions and professions and finds a surprisingly strong congruence between the aims of unions and professional organizations.

                  • Freeman, Richard, Joni Hersch, and Lawrence Mishel. 2005. Emerging labor market institutions for the twenty-first century. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    A speculative report on what institutions might rise to complement or replace unions if private-sector union density continues to slide in the United States. Explores opportunities to protect workers from the forces of capitalism without the traditional closure mechanisms achieved through professions, licensing, and unions.

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                  • Milkman, Ruth. 2006. L.A. story: Immigrant workers and the future of the U.S. labor movement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                    Draws attention to the influences of immigration and cultural heritage on prospects for labor organizing. Suggests that a renewed focus on organizing low-wage and immigrant workers may help American unions reorganize.

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                  • Rabban, David M. 1991. Is unionization compatible with professionalism? Industrial and Labor Relations Review 45.1: 97–112.

                    DOI: 10.2307/2524704Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    A qualitative study that argues, despite the attitudes of many American professionals, unionization can enhance professionalism for many occupations. For example, many union contracts provide protections for employees’ autonomy and allow employees to devote time to professional development activities.

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                  • Rosenfeld, Jake. 2006. Desperate measures: Strikes and wages in post-accord America. Social Forces 85.1: 235–265.

                    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0140Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Using a comprehensive dataset of strike activity in the United States, Rosenfeld documents a dramatic decline in labor’s collective bargaining power in recent decades.

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                  • Southworth, Caleb, and Judith Stepan-Norris. 2009. American trade unions and data limitations: A new agenda for labor studies. Annual Review of Sociology 35: 297–320.

                    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-070308-120019Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    A thoughtful analysis of where “holes” remain in the labor studies literature, with an emphasis on the discipline of sociology’s contributions to the field. Argues for a renewed emphasis on longitudinal data collection.

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                  • Voss, Kim, and Rachel Sherman. 2000. Breaking the iron law of oligarchy: Union revitalization in the American labor movement. American Journal of Sociology 106.2: 303–349.

                    DOI: 10.1086/316963Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Excellent introduction to the literature on recent attempts at union revitalization in the United States. Describes how some unions have responded to a hostile environment through promising internal reforms.

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                  • Western, Bruce. 1997. Between class and market: Postwar unionization in the capitalist democracies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                    Comparative study of the rise and fall of trade unions in eighteen countries. Argues that unions fared best in institutional contexts in which there is a strong working class political party, centralized labor markets, and union-administered unemployment insurance.

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                  Inequality

                  A third major stream of research in the sociology of occupations, broadly defined, examines how occupations are matched to earnings, or packages of socially valued goods or rewards (e.g., pay, autonomy, prestige, opportunities for upward mobility), and how occupations are structured in terms of the social attributes of the workers (e.g., race, gender, class origins) who hold them. In contrast to the “professions” literature, the focus is less on the sources of the division of labor than it is on the consequences of the division of labor for class, race, gender, and economic inequalities. As such, debates have focused on the particular features of occupations that are particularly salient for understanding inequality, and in particular whether occupations could be scaled along some theoretically and empirically critical gradient (e.g., socioeconomic status, prestige), or whether they instead served as the foundation for social classes. Some recent scholarship has questioned the importance of occupations relative to other forms of social organization within the realm of production (e.g., organizations, firms) and outside the realm of production (e.g., education). The orienting assumption of much of the literature is that occupations are still critical to organizing contemporary forms of inequality, because what we do for a living has enormous import for how many resources we control and how we live our lives.

                  Gradational Versus Categorical Models

                  Much of the debate over the role of occupations in producing inequalities has played out between, and to a lesser extent within, advocates of two underlying models of the inequality structure. Stratification scholars typically favor scaling occupations along gradients of socioeconomic status (e.g., Blau and Duncan 1967, Hauser and Warren 1997) or prestige (e.g., Nakao and Treas 1994, Treiman 1977). On the other hand, class analysts, such as Erikson and Goldthorpe 1993 and Parkin 1971, argue that occupations should be aggregated into distinct social classes according to their shared features (e.g., skill levels, autonomy, employment contract), without assuming that these classes were hierarchically organized. More recently, Grusky and his colleagues (see Grusky and Sorensen 1998 and Weeden and Grusky 2005) have offered a third approach, arguing that detailed occupations (e.g., lawyer, carpenter) are deeply institutionalized categories that should be neither scaled nor aggregated. The gradational and class-analytic approaches have generated massive literatures in their own right, and we will only touch on them briefly here.

                  • Blau, Peter M., and Otis Dudley Duncan. 1967. The American occupational structure. New York: Wiley.

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                    Groundbreaking study of social mobility and occupational stratification in the United States. Saw socioeconomic mobility as largely attributable to macrosociological changes, particularly the expansion and contraction of particular segments of the labor market.

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                  • Erikson, Robert and John H. Goldthorpe. 1993. The constant flux: A study of class mobility in industrial societies. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                    Seminal study of within-country trends and cross-national similarities in differences in mobility across positions in the division of labor. We introduce it here as an exemplar of an extremely influential class-analytic tradition, particularly in European sociology, that aggregates occupations according to their shared features (in this case the nature of the employment contract).

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                  • Grusky, David B., and Jesper B. Sorensen. 1998. Can class analysis be salvaged? American Journal of Sociology 103.5:1187–1234.

                    DOI: 10.1086/231351Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Argues that occupations, not the big aggregate groups typically identified by social class analysts, are meaningful to workers and employers, sources of social identities, purveyors of culture, and agents of collective action. Although framed as a paper on class analysis, can also be read as a call for a new, Durkheim-inspired agenda for the sociology of occupations.

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                  • Hauser, Robert M., and John R. Warren. 1997. Socioeconomic indexes for occupations: A review, update, and critique. Sociological Methodology 27.1: 177–298.

                    DOI: 10.1111/1467-9531.271028Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Trenchant empirical critique of the methodological tradition of scaling occupations by prestige or by socioeconomic status. Argues that if occupations are to be scaled at all, should be arrayed according to educational requirements or income requirements, but not both (as in composite socioeconomic index [SEI] scales). Often seen as the death knell for prestige and SEI scales.

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                  • Nakao, Keiko, and Judith Treas. 1994. Updating occupational prestige and socioeconomic scores: How the new measures measure up. Sociological Methodology 24:1–72.

                    DOI: 10.2307/270978Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Updates occupational prestige measures to the 1980 census classification scheme, which is also closely related to the 1990 scheme. Argues that while relatively few occupations changed prestige scores between 1960 and 1980, what changes there were are both systematic and sociologically important.

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                  • Parkin, Frank. 1971. Class inequality and political order: Social stratification in capitalist and communist societies. New York: Praeger.

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                    Offers a Weberian interpretation of the class structure that identifies distinctions between aggregate groups of occupations (e.g., professions, semi-professions). Argues that these distinctions capture both the hierarchy of marketable skills and the hierarchy of status and prestige.

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                  • Treiman, Donald J. 1977. Occupational prestige in comparative perspective. New York: Academic Press.

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                    Exemplar of tradition of scaling occupations. Synthesizes data on occupational prestige from several countries. Notable for the finding that perceptions of occupational prestige tend to be fairly consistent across societies, and offers a functionalist interpretation for this consistency.

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                  • Weeden, Kim A., and David B. Grusky. 2005. The case for a new class map. American Journal of Sociology 111.1: 141–212.

                    DOI: 10.1086/428815Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Identifies mechanisms that create homogeneity in life conditions (e.g., income, social attitudes, political attitudes, consumption practices, institutional participation, etc.) between members of the same occupation. Using General Social Survey (GSS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) data, shows that much of the variation in life conditions occurs between occupations, and that prestige and socioeconomic status are poor predictors of this variation.

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                  Earnings

                  In the wake of growing disparities in income inequality, a number of scholars have turned to the relationship between occupations and rising income inequality. This relationship has become one of the primary focal points for larger debates about the extent to which contemporary inequalities are structured by occupations, classes, or neither (e.g., Weeden, et al. 2007; Kim and Sakamoto 2008; Mouw and Kalleberg 2010). These debates have taken place in the context of a much larger literature in labor economics that treats occupations as proxies for unmeasured skill; Murphy and Welch 1993 offers a now-classic example of this approach. Other scholarly works, such as Wright and Dwyer 2003, examine changes in the relative sizes of high-paying and low-paying occupations, rather than changes in the earnings associated with a given occupation, as the United States shifts from a manufacturing economy to a service-based economy.

                  • Kim, ChangHawn, and Arthur Sakamoto. 2008. The rise of intra-occupational wage inequality in the United States, 1983 to 2002. American Sociological Review 73.1: 129–157.

                    DOI: 10.1177/000312240807300107Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Notable for the finding that intraoccupation wage inequality grew faster than interoccupation inequality in the 1980s and 1990s. Argues that occupations are less important for understanding the contemporary increase in earnings inequality than other labor market structures, most notably organizations.

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                  • Mouw, Ted, and Arne L. Kalleberg. 2010. Occupations and the structure of wage inequality in the United States. American Sociological Review 75.3: 402–431.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0003122410363564Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Decomposes growth in overall wage inequality into the component due to changes in the size of occupations, the component due to changes in the mean differences in wages between occupations, and the variance of wages within occupations. Most of the change is due to between-occupation differences in average wages.

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                  • Murphy, Kevin, and Finis Welch. 1993. Occupational change and the demand for skill, 1940–1990. American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 83: 122–136.

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                    Provided as an example of how occupations enter into the economic literature on skill-biased technological change and rising earnings inequality. Occupations are important insofar as they are proxies for otherwise unmeasured skills.

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                  • Weeden, Kim A., Young-Mi Kim, Matthew Di Carlo, and David B. Grusky. 2007. Social class and earnings inequality. American Behavioral Scientist 50.5: 702–736.

                    DOI: 10.1177/0002764206295015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Using CPS data, decomposes the growth in wage inequality into that occurring between big classes, that occurring between occupations, and that occurring within occupations. Finds that between-occupation growth between continued throughout the 1979–2002 period, whereas within-occupation growth was flat after 1983. Offers a “dual closure story” to explain earnings growth at the big-class and micro-class levels.

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                  • Wright, Erik Olin, and Rachel E. Dwyer. 2003. The patterns of job expansions in the USA: A comparison of the 1960s and 1990s. Socio-Economic Review 1:289–325.

                    DOI: 10.1093/soceco/1.3.289Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Empirical study of the expansion of jobs in the 1960s and 1990s. Shows “asymmetrical polarization”: strong but decelerating growth in the highest quintile of jobs ranked by median earnings, which are typically high-skilled occupations, extremely limited growth in the middle, and moderate but accelerating growth of jobs in the bottom quintile.

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                  Gender Segregation

                  Occupations figure prominently in efforts to understand gender and racial inequalities in the labor market. In particular, scholars have devoted substantial attention to occupational segregation—that is, the unequal distribution of men and women across occupations—both as one of the primary sources of the gender gap in earnings, and also as a stand-alone indicator of the extent to which a society lives up to its egalitarian ideals. Much of the empirical literature on occupational segregation focuses on the entire range of occupations, with the goal of identifying variations and similarities across time in space in the amount (e.g., Semyonov and Jones 1999) or pattern of segregation (e.g., Charles and Grusky 2004). Widely cited sociological explanations for gender segregation include Reskin and Roos 1990 on gender-based job queues and discrimination, Charles and Grusky 2004 on gender essentialism, Correll 2004 on status beliefs and career preferences, Jacobs 1989 on ongoing “social control,” and Padavic and Reskin 2002 on organizational practices. Many sociologists (e.g., Kilbourne, et al. 1994; Petersen and Morgan 1995) have also wrestled with the consequences of an occupation’s gender composition for other occupational attributes, such as pay.

                  • Charles, Maria, and David B. Grusky. 2004. Occupational ghettos: The worldwide segregation of women and men. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                    Uses log-multiplicative models to reveal patterns of gender segregation in ten industrialized societies; individual chapters, some by other authors, explore the United States, Japan, and Switzerland in detail. Finds a general pattern in which men disproportionately hold manual occupations and women nonmanual occupations (horizontal segregation) and, within sectors, men disproportionately hold better-paying occupations (vertical segregation). Gender essentialism allows countries to reconcile egalitarianism with segregation.

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                  • Correll, Shelley J. 2004. Gender, status, and emerging career aspirations. American Sociological Review 69.1:93–113.

                    DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900106Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Argues that widely held gender stereotypes about particular skills (e.g., “men are good at math”) affect the standards of performance to which men and women hold themselves, and their self-assessments of ability. These self-assessments affect career choices, leading men to be overrepresented in careers involving stereotypical “male” tasks and women to be overrepresented in careers involving stereotypical “female” tasks.

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                  • Jacobs, Jerry A. 1989. Revolving doors: Sex segregation and women’s careers. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                    Uses nationally representative, observational data sets and case studies of physicians and lawyers to study the impact of occupational aspirations, education, and career mobility on sex segregation. In contrast to early socialization perspectives, Jacobs argues that women and men are subject to lifelong systems of social control that pressure them to pursue sex-appropriate occupations.

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                  • Kilbourne, Barbara Stanek, Paula England, George Farkas, Kurt Beron, and Dorothea Weir. 1994. Returns to skills, compensating differentials, and gender bias: Effects of occupational characteristics on the wages of women and men. American Journal of Sociology 100.3:689–719.

                    DOI: 10.1086/230578Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Offers a cultural-feminist account of the sex gap in pay, which claims that women’s work is culturally devalued. Consistent with these predictions, the authors find that occupations with a high percentage of women or that require nurturing skills pay less than other occupations, net of the education and experience of the workers within these occupations.

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                  • Padavic, Irene, and Barbara F. Reskin. 2002. Women and men at work. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

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                    Accessible introduction to various theories of segregation, including those that tie segregation to seemingly neutral organizational practices such as referral-based hiring, internal labor markets, tenure-based promotion schemes, and so forth.

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                  • Petersen, Trond, and Laurie A. Morgan. 1995. Separate and unequal: Occupation-establishment sex segregation and the gender wage gap. American Journal of Sociology 101.2: 329–365.

                    DOI: 10.1086/230727Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Widely cited analysis of the consequences of job-level segregation. Shows that men and women are rarely found within the same job (here, an occupation in a specific employment establishment), but when they are, the different in their pay is small. Concludes that the main sources of the gender gap in pay are occupational and establishment segregation, not within-job discrimination.

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                  • Reskin, Barbara F., and Patricia A. Roos. 1990. Job queues, gender queues: Explaining women’s inroads into male occupations. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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                    Develops a queuing model to explain how changes in the structural characteristics of occupations and the attributes of workers lead particular occupations to integrate but then resegregate. Shows that women’s apparent inroads into “male” occupations mask considerable internal segregation, with women entering the lower-paying, lower-prestige subspecialties, shifts, or employment situations within an occupation. Offers case studies of feminizing occupations.

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                  • Semyonov, Moshe, and Frank L. Jones. 1999. Dimensions of gender occupational differentiation in segregation and inequality: A cross-national analysis. Social Indicators Research 46.2: 225–247.

                    DOI: 10.1023/A:1006839220017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Analyzes International Labor Organization (ILO) data to study levels of “nominal segregation,” or the extent to which men and woman are found in different jobs, and “ordinal inequality”, or the extent to which men and women are found in differentially compensated jobs, across fifty-six developed and developing nations. Identifies structural correlates of each type, including rates of female labor force participation.

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                  Racial and Ethnic Segregation

                  A parallel literature focuses on differences in the representation of racial and ethnic groups across occupations. King 1992 and Queneau 2009 offer analyses of trends in the amount of occupational segregation by race in the US labor market. The racial segregation literature tends not to be explicitly comparative, because of cross-national differences in the salience of particular racial and ethnic cleavages, but various authors have explored racial segregation outside the United States; as an example, see King 2009, a study of racial and ethnic segregation in Brazil. Like the gender segregation literature, sociological explanations for racial segregation focus on supply and demand forces, although with more emphasis on employer discrimination as a source of segregation and less on work-family dynamics within the home or on socialization or related processes. For example, Pager 2007 shows the impact of racial discrimination on the prospects of obtaining an entry-level occupation in the low-wage labor market. Kmec 2003 and Tomaskovic-Devey 1993 are two examples of studies that examine the consequences of racial segregation on occupational pay, while Hirsh 2009 shows how organizational practices surrounding discrimination law affect racial (and gender) segregation. The racial segregation literature also emphasizes the spatial segregation of racial groups, as in Huffman and Cohen 2004, a study of occupational segregation in local labor markets in the United States.

                  • Hirsh, Elizabeth C. 2009. The strength of weak enforcement: The impact of discrimination charges on sex and race segregation in the workplace. American Sociological Review 74.2: 245–271.

                    DOI: 10.1177/000312240907400205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    A notable study of the relationship between firms and their legal environment. Finds that organizations are more likely to desegregate in response to changes in industry-level practices and norms than as a result of direct legal challenges.

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                  • Huffman, Matt L., and Phillip N. Cohen. 2004. Racial wage inequality: Job segregation and devaluation across US labor markets. American Journal of Sociology 109.4: 902–936.

                    DOI: 10.1086/378928Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Examines data from the 1990 census on the concentration of black workers by occupation and industry. Findings suggest that black workers continue to face labor market discrimination.

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                  • King, Mary C. 1992. The evolution of occupational segregation by race and gender, 1940–1988. Monthly Labor Review 115.4.

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                    An important study of the gendered nature of occupational segregation by race. King critically analyzes the convergence between black and white women’s wages in the United States over the 20th century using dissimilarity indices.

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                  • King, Mary C. 2009. Occupational segregation by race and sex in Brazil, 1989–2001. Review of Black Political Economy 36.2: 113–125.

                    DOI: 10.1007/s12114-009-9038-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    One of the most important international case studies of occupational segregation. While both race and gender are significant delineators of Brazilian labor market inequality, King finds that gender segregation is particularly salient at the level of broad occupational categories.

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                  • Kmec, Julie A. 2003. Minority job concentration and wages. Social Problems 50.1:38–59.

                    DOI: 10.1525/sp.2003.50.1.38Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Considers the relationship between minority concentration at the establishment level and earnings, finding that much of the gap between white and minority earnings can be attributed to segregation within individual organizations, rather than broader occupations or industries.

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                  • Pager, Devah. 2007. Marked: Race, crime, and finding work in an era of mass incarceration. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                    Widely cited audit study of the low-wage labor market. Using matched pairs of “applicants” with identical education and experience, shows that blacks have lower odds of finding an entry-level position in a low-wage occupation (e.g., cook, mover) than whites. Whites with a criminal record have roughly the same odds of a callback as “honest” blacks. Identifies hiring practices that generate race-differentiated outcomes.

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                  • Queneau, Herve. 2009. Trends in occupational segregation by race and ethnicity in the USA: Evidence from detailed data. Applied Economics Letters 16.13: 1347–1350.

                    DOI: 10.1080/13504850701367346Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Shows that the decline in occupational segregation between blacks and non-blacks in the US labor market was offset by an increase in occupational segregation between Hispanics and non-Hispanics.

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                  • Tomaskovic-Devey, Donald. 1993. Gender and racial inequality at work: The sources and consequences of job segregation. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press.

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                    Empirical study of within- and between-occupation segregation, with a focus on public policy implications. Reaffirmed findings on the systematic disadvantages minorities face in the workplace.

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                  LAST MODIFIED: 07/27/2011

                  DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756384-0038

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