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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|17129||2008||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Social Science Research, Volume 37, Issue 2, June 2008, Pages 642–656
Worker displacement has become a common feature of employment in the “flexible economy.” While studies of income losses and the duration of unemployment after displacement abound, and popular accounts argue that workers often lose status, less empirical attention has been paid to the quality or prestige of employment displaced workers are able to secure after a downsizing event. This paper helps to fill this gap in the literature by focusing on changes in occupational prestige among a nationally representative sample of displaced workers who became reemployed from the January 2004 Displaced Workers and Employee Tenure Supplement of the Current Population Survey. Our findings show that displaced workers with higher levels of education, net of other factors, fared significantly better than others in job quality upon reemployment, highlighting the importance of education in retaining status and privilege in the new economy.
The nature of employment in the US has changed dramatically over the past three decades. Workers are now less likely to spend their entire careers with one employer than ever before. The standard employment relationship, based on a set of institutionalized understandings between employers and employees for full-time and long-term work, has been dismantled to the point where some commentators have declared the “end of employment as we knew it” (Reich, 2000). Perhaps more than anything else, the onset of corporate “downsizing” in the 1980s marked the beginning of this shift in the employment relationship. A large body of work in the academic, business, and popular presses has debated the merits or detriments of downsizing for both individual workers and the economy at large. The popular stories that focus on the plight of displaced workers often assume that workers lose status after displacement. For instance, in the film Roger and Me (1990), Michael Moore shows displaced autoworkers taking counter jobs in fast food restaurants. Ehrenreich, 2005 and Uchitelle, 2006 both describe the difficulty that downsized middle class professionals have in finding work after displacement that retains their middle class status. The academic literature, for its part, focuses on abstract accounts of business strategy or case-based accounts of displaced workers, with some notable exceptions. For instance, economists have studied workers’ transitions into and out of involuntary unemployment and wage losses associated with them (see Fallick, 1996, Carrington, 1993 and Mazerolle and Singh, 2004). While Newman (1999) observed that many displaced workers lost a degree of social or occupational status, we lack a representative assessment of whether or not displaced workers lose occupational prestige, and the social status stemming from it, upon reemployment. In this paper, we focus on displaced workers (those who have experienced a downsizing event) as we analyze the reemployment patterns of this increasingly large segment of the labor market. Using nationally representative data on displaced workers, we examine changes in occupational prestige that workers experience between their pre- and post-displacement jobs. Specifically, we pose two sets of questions. The first regard whether or not displaced workers are able to find jobs of comparable status to those from which they were displaced. The second regard which individual- and structural-level factors mediate the effects of displacement on the displaced workers’ status upon reemployment. If displacement affects certain workers or groups differently than others, it may perpetuate labor market inequalities in ways that conform to or differ from other labor market processes. Before answering these questions, we will provide a brief portrait of the current working environment marked by flexibility and displacement and a discussion of influences on changes of occupational prestige post-displacement. 1.1. Employment flexibility and worker displacement Post-World War II employment followed a “Fordist” model of stability based on large firms, growth in consumer markets, and long career ladders. Once employees gained entry into the bottom rung of a career ladder that combined with others to create the bureaucratic firm, they could expect long-term employment and predictable advancement in internal labor markets (ILMs) in exchange for their loyalty to the firm. The strength of unions and the relative isolation of the US economy from global competition helped to reinforce this system of production and employment to the benefit of many. This “standard” employment relationship became so widespread that many have theorized that an underlying social and psychological “contract” governed the exchange of stability for loyalty between employers and employees (Rousseau, 1995 and Osterman et al., 2001). During the past 25 years, however, a combination of social, political, and economic forces have led to organizational restructuring and an overall dismantling of the Fordist model that characterized the post-War economy (Rubin, 1996). Firms now strive for flexibility in the face of constantly changing market conditions hastened by increasing global competition, rapid technological advancement, the rise of the service sector and emergence of flatter organizational forms. Since the 1980s, a growing number of firms have utilized “numerical flexibility” by making use of temporary and contingent employees or downsizing their labor forces in order to adjust their labor requirements (Smith, 1997). As a result, employment has become increasingly unstable, and employees can rarely expect to develop an entire career in a single firm (Pollert, 1988 and Harrison, 1994). As downsizing became more widespread across occupations and industries, scholarly attention to it increased dramatically (Moore, 2003). An influential body of work examined the institutional changes that have accompanied employment flexibility, instability, and downsizing (see Cappelli, 1999 and Osterman, 1999), and empirical research on post-displacement income and unemployment spells showed the social and structural conditions associated with downsizing (see Fallick, 1996 and Moore, 2003). While these and many other studies have provided valuable information regarding post-displacement income and unemployment spells, they have focused primarily on economic rewards to the neglect of the non-economic reward of social status. We contribute to these studies by focusing on occupational prestige. In the case of displaced workers, we are interested in determining how displacement affects individuals’ upward or downward movement in the occupational structure that, in tandem with other work structures, remains an important determinant of individuals’ market positions, life-chances, access to valued goods, job autonomy, and social prestige in our market economy (Weeden and Grusky, 2005). 1.2. Occupational prestige Occupational prestige remains the object of a considerable amount of debate and study within the sociology of work and social stratification literatures (see, for example, Jones and McMillan, 2001 and Zhou, 2005). One of the sources of debate is whether prestige should be defined as a relationship of deference, or simply the relative standing or desirability of certain occupations (Hauser and Warren, 1997, p. 188). In either case, there are conceptual and empirical strengths of occupational prestige. Conceptually, occupational prestige focuses on the occupation as a structural characteristic rather than characteristics of the individuals within the occupation. Empirically, occupational prestige rankings do not vary by the characteristics of the person rating, meaning that as an aggregate, people across different groups and even from different time periods accord similar reverence to similar occupations (Treiman, 1977). While the occupational categories to which prestige rankings are tied have been criticized for masking a significant amount of within-occupation heterogeneity, the significant heterogeneity that remains between occupations make them vital measures of differentiation and stratification and therefore worthy of examination (see Weeden and Grusky, 2005). In addition, occupational prestige is considered to be a measure with stronger theoretical meaning than related measures estimated by Socioeconomic Index ( Hauser and Warren, 1997). A recent reconceptualization of occupational prestige has helped to resolve the debates surrounding the measure (Zhou, 2005). In this new theoretical formulation, it is argued that the prestige tied to occupations does not arise simply out of power, an overly vague relationship that underlies many of the criticisms described above. Instead, Zhou (2005) argues, prestige rankings measure collective beliefs and values about the legitimacy particular occupations have in making claims to knowledge-based or technical authority. “In other words, processes of intersubjective evaluation of social positions (such as occupational prestige) [are] based on shared criteria that transcend the very socioeconomic boundaries created by resource-based variations in education and income” (Zhou, 2005, p. 98). 1.3. Educational, demographic, and work structural factors Worker displacement and reemployment across the occupational structure has increased during a period characterized by growing economic flexibility and employment insecurity. The reemployment of displaced workers has become increasingly problematic, as economic and employment changes have altered mobility patterns and the opportunities available to different groups of workers (Smith, 2001). This flexibility has led analysts to re-assess the role of social class in stratification processes. According to some, market-based systems of distribution (of both commodities and workers) replace class-based social cleavages and stratification systems (Clark et al., 1993). In addition, as the growth of flexible labor markets and the rise of small entrepreneurial firms has ushered in an era in which people move more freely throughout the labor market and unions, craft guilds, and other agents of social closure may lose their influence (Smith, 2001). Others have argued that occupational groups have emerged as more salient interest groups and class locations (Weeden and Grusky, 2004). This greater flexibility, however, may not lead to equality in prestige for women or racial/ethnic minorities. In the following section, we examine demographic and work structural factors that may influence the quality of reemployment of displaced workers. 1.3.1. Education The growing flexibility and greater returns to education that characterize the new economy may be resulting in a decline of social class as a meaningful set of social groupings in the post-industrial United States. In its place, some, such as post-industrialists and human capitalists, argue that a market-like scheme offers individuals more potential for mobility based on education or experience rather than the previous class-based conceptions based on relations to the means of production or shared experiences in the productive sphere Bell, 1973 and Becker, 1964). While a variety of explanatory schemes exist (see Kingston, 2000 for a review), many theorists agree that returns to education have increased dramatically in recent decades as other more traditional labor market buffers, like union membership, have lost their salience. Hout (1988) found that in the 1980s, mobility patterns in the US became increasingly “open,” as education had a greater effect on occupational mobility independent of social background, traditionally measured by father’s occupation (cf. Blau and Duncan, 1967). This result, combined with growth in the number of college graduates in the labor force, may reduce the durability of class boundaries based on inter-generational status transmission. Some argue that people in advantaged positions can protect inter-generational privilege by transmitting cultural capital and private schooling to their children, and that higher education in the United States itself has features of a class structure (Soares, 2007). Others have speculated more recently that the rapid growth of high-tech industries and the “market-driven workforce” provides rewards for those with skills, education, and adaptability (Cappelli, 1999). According to these accounts, membership in the “elite” strata of social and economic hierarchies is not determined by capital ownership or the ability to monopolize production or particular services, but instead by high levels of education and skill that are rewarded in an increasingly open labor market. Finally, there is evidence that credentialing has increased over the past thirty years. In an economy dominated by service industries, where products are often abstract and “skills” and potential productivity are hard to measure and predict, education becomes an important symbol upon which employers base decisions, and credentials serve as a mechanism in education-based status group domination (Brown, 2001, p. 20). Overall, workers with higher levels of education are less likely to be displaced from their jobs (Attewell, 1999), and education helps workers to become reemployed more quickly and at higher wages (Neal, 1995). Indeed, for a long time, blue-collar occupations and jobs in manufacturing industries, which typically required less education than white-collar jobs, carried with them a higher risk of displacement than jobs in service industries and professional occupations (Attewell, 1999). However, in the 1990s, the risk of displacement in service industries and white-collar and professional occupations increased significantly (Gardner, 1995 and Koeber, 2002). While the risk of displacement in service industries and white-collar and professional occupations increased significantly over the 1990s, highly educated workers continue to retain labor market advantages over less educated workers. As education plays a vital role in determining position and labor market outcomes among displaced workers, we expect that: H1: Displaced workers with higher levels of education will be less likely to lose occupational prestige upon reemployment. 1.3.2. Race and gender Groups already at a disadvantage in the labor market face a higher risk of displacement, and experience more difficulty in finding comparable reemployment post-displacement. For instance, African-Americans experience a higher rate of displacement than whites (Moore, 1992 and Kletzer and Fairlie, 1998), and once displaced, they suffer longer spells of unemployment, and are more likely to remain permanently unemployed after displacement (Spalter-Roth and Deitch, 1999). While women are not significantly more likely to be displaced than men, they do suffer a greater wage loss upon reemployment than men (Perrucci et al., 1997). In addition, women with children remained unemployed longer after displacement than those without (Smith and Rubin, 1997). While there may be racial differences in occupational prestige, and gender differences within racial groups (Xu and Leffler, 1993), this factor should have negligible influence on post-displacement occupational prestige because presumably, these differences would persist before and after displacement. Given the race and gender disparities in displacement, and persistent labor market inequalities, we expect that: H2: Displaced African-American workers will be more likely than displaced white workers to lose occupational prestige upon reemployment. H3: Displaced female workers will be more likely than displaced male workers to lose occupational prestige upon reemployment. 1.3.3. Work structures Many argue that social cleavages in the labor market remain, and that many important processes and outcomes, including the distribution of economic and social resources, are heavily influenced by work-related social structures. One way to preserve status is through the practice of social closure, where social groups in the labor market create structural barriers that restrict access to jobs and the economic and social rewards associated with them, reserving job openings for insiders and the expense of outsiders (Murphy, 1988). Unions have historically been one of the most effective practitioners of social closure in US labor markets. By successfully restricting the supply of labor in certain occupations, unions have secured rewards for their members mainly in the form of wages (Freeman and Medoff, 1984). Although union density and influence has declined in recent decades, there is evidence that unions continue to provide advantages to their members (Weeden, 2002). Because they restrict the supply of labor, we expect that displaced workers who are union members will move up in the labor queue when seeking reemployment, and are more likely to find similar or higher quality employment after displacement. H4: Displaced workers who belong to unions will be less likely than non-union members to lose occupational prestige upon reemployment. Occupations are more controversial, and possibly weaker, agents of closure, but there is evidence that they are important bases of collective action and interest definition and promotion (Grusky and Sørensen, 1998 and Weeden and Grusky, 2005). Occupations shape attitudes and life-chances in more predictable ways than do the aggregate classes in previous conceptualizations as suggested by analysts such as Goldthorpe (1987). Occupations are also more thoroughly institutionalized in the labor market, and as a result remain more stable and durable social groupings than do “big” classes, which are more likely to ebb and flow with economic, industrial, and other institutional changes. Perhaps most importantly, “in many occupations, licenses and credentials serve as explicit gatekeeping devices, restricting entry to certain qualified eligibles and promoting social closure that generates distinctive cultures and reputations” (Weeden and Grusky, 2005, p. 151). These two occupation-specific processes—training and social closure—shape life-chances, enable the formation of coherent interaction groups, and maintain the class boundaries around these groups. In some occupations, these mechanisms and processes are more highly developed and more directly related to job-related outcomes, such as income and job security. We expect that the ability of some occupational groups to benefit the members of those occupations in their quest for reemployment by restricting competition for job openings, thus reducing the likelihood of losing occupational prestige, as a displaced worker finding work in the same occupation would by definition not lose prestige. Two occupational groups in particular have developed the most elaborate and effective closure devices that are positively related to a variety of job rewards, mostly notably wages. The professions are a group of occupations that have been particularly successful at restricting entry and protecting the job-related benefits of their members through selective credentialing and licensing and by creating new demands and monopolizing the delivery of services that meet those demands (Abbott, 1988). Skilled trades have also organized effectively along occupational lines to protect their interests, and have used licensing as a mechanism to both ensure quality and restrict supply. As a result of this effective social closure, professional occupations and skilled trades experience higher wages than many other occupations (Weeden, 2002). Given these occupational groups’ abilities to restrict the competition for jobs, we expect that those displaced from professional occupations and skilled trades will suffer less from displacement than other workers. H5: Workers displaced from professional occupations are less likely to lose occupational prestige than workers displaced from other occupations. H6: Workers displaced from skilled trades are less likely to lose occupational prestige than workers displaced from other occupations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
We posed two questions at the outset of this paper: are displaced workers losing occupational prestige when they become reemployed, and which factors affect changes in occupational prestige between the jobs displaced workers held before and after the displacement spell? Clearly, there is not a simple answer to the first question. While on the whole, workers do lose prestige as a result of displacement, some workers lose more than others. Our answers to the second question point to a clear and striking pattern in the contemporary labor market. The significant effects of education and occupation on changes in occupational prestige lend support to the notion that the increasingly common phenomenon of involuntary displacement has disparate consequences for different workers. Those with high levels of education do better upon reemployment than those with less education. Many features of the “old” employment model, such as internal labor markets rewarded workers for longevity and loyalty and buffered them from labor market competition and market-based returns to education. As the employment relationship changes, however, and institutions such as ILMs are replaced with new, more flexible ones, education continues to be an important asset in the labor market. While they cannot speak definitively on the subject, our results do lend support to the idea that traditional conceptualizations of social class based on one’s location in the production process, whether to the means of production, in an authority hierarchy, or in an occupational group, need to take individual’s education into account. While professionals appear particularly effective at protecting their interests, another group of occupations with strong social closure—those in skilled blue-collar occupations—did not experience the same benefits in reemployment (also see Dudley, 1994). After testing for collinearity among industry, occupation, and union membership, we did not find evidence of any protective mechanisms for the skilled blue-collar workers or union members. We suspect that part of the problem for such workers is the result of industry and sectoral shifts in the changing economy that produce fewer opportunities for such workers to find comparable employment immediately (Uchitelle, 2006). Our findings highlight the importance of educational attainment and individual skills in determining one’s location in contemporary systems of stratification. Technology plays an overwhelmingly important role in the modern economy, and those with higher levels of education are more likely to have (or are perceived to have) the skills necessary for many jobs and are, therefore, in greater demand (Autor et al., 2003). Skills, creativity, and adaptability have contributed to the growing flexibility in the labor market, and have, according to many, replaced class as the new dividing line between the haves and have-nots (Kalleberg et al., 2000, Florida, 2002 and Barley and Kunda, 2004). As firms grow and shrink in rapid response to market and technological changes, workers must continually navigate the flexible labor market to secure employment. Those with advanced education and developed skill sets are better prepared to compete in the new labor market (Levy and Murnane, 2004). In addition, as returns to education are high in the “new” economy, labor market rewards, including occupational prestige, are being distributed in a polarized manner, with highly-skilled workers able to reap benefits, and those with little formal training or outdated skills relegated to poor quality jobs which offer few rewards and little security. Others argue that the importance of education in the new economy is not because of the human capital it confers upon those who have it, but because of the increasing importance of symbolic credentials. While our analysis cannot determine precisely which educational mechanism is at work, we believe that the abstract and uncertain nature of “skills” and job requirements in an increasingly service-based economy make education a symbolically valuable resource that is used as a proxy for general skills that are important in many service occupations and industries (Murphy, 1988). Future research on this topic must look more closely at how education and work structures interact with race and gender to create new kinds of inequality in the new economy. Some important questions surrounding these issues remain unanswered by our findings and should be addressed by future research: are the returns to education that are so important to gaining quality employment “blind,” or are groups traditionally at a disadvantage in educational and labor markets hit doubly hard as a result of the increasing importance of education? Will improving education and educational attainment for disadvantages groups help them to fare better in the new economy? Do the increasing returns to education found here and in other work indicate that the salience of class boundaries are declining, or are the bases of class changing in post-industrial economies? Labor market and employment restructuring has been widespread over the past two decades. One of the most important consequences of these changes is increasing employment insecurity. As insecurity resulting from displacement becomes a common feature of working in the 21st century, research must continue to address the role it plays in career development and social mobility. While more research is needed to fully understand the role that displacement plays in work and employment, this paper provides an important step in our understanding of labor market stratification in the new and flexible economy.