PhD

Economic Sociology Seminars

Seminars take place on Wednesdays 4:00-5:30 p.m in room E62-450 and also over Zoom unless otherwise noted. Please contact Jessica Lipsey (jessi71@mit.edu) for additional details, or if you wish to be added to the mailing list to receive updates. 

Spring 2024

  • February 14, 2024

    James Chu, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

    How Beneficiaries Become Sources of Normative Control

     Organizations can motivate and coordinate work by socializing members to internalize organizational values. Existing theories posit that organizations achieve normative control through encapsulation, wherein peers and managers are primary sources of members’ socialization. Drawing on ethnographic data from a not-for-profit school, I show how an external actor—beneficiaries—can become a source of normative control. I develop a multistage process that explains how teachers were socialized by parents, specifically by hearing these parent beneficiaries narrate their needs; engaging in collective storytelling about beneficiaries; experiencing episodic shaming centered on how teachers’ daily performance met (or did not meet) beneficiaries’ needs; and receiving validation from beneficiaries. Because these sequential stages establish beneficiaries as sources of control through social interactions set in specific times and places, and establish shared emotional states among organizational members, I theorize that these stages compose a ritual of integration. Although teachers initially arrived at the school with heterogeneous values, this ritual led many of them to internalize the organizational value of self-sacrifice. Teachers who were unmoved by parents’ stories or came to see parents as exploitative did not internalize this value, and they tended to exit the organization. This study reveals how normative control can arise not only through socialization from in-group members but also from ritual interactions with and about beneficiaries.

  • February 28, 2024

    Luis Flores, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University

    The Crisis of Asset Homeownership: Remaking Landed Economic Security in Neoliberal America

    It has become common to interpret the transformation of household life in contemporary America through the lens of “financialization.” However, in important ways, the postwar home had long been “financialized”—reduced to exchange value rather than the sites of productive or commercial life that anchored older notions of landed independence. Drawing on two historical case studies, I propose a fuller theory of what changed since the 1980s, involving the shifting foundations of homes as sources of economic security. I trace divergent and conflicting efforts to turn homes into liquid and short-term resources by supporting the deregulation of second mortgages (for home equity loans) and for the relaxation of zoning restrictions on accessory units in single-family homes (enabling rental incomes) in the 1980s. Advocates for an emerging “liquid homeownership” envisioned a shift away from a regime I term “asset homeownership.” Between the 1930s and 1980s, mortgage regulations and zoning rules built a dam around the single-family home, protecting it from devaluation but “locking in” home equity, while restricting home-based commerce. Asset homeownership promised postwar owners access to a long-term, stable, but ultimately illiquid asset, that instead offered old-age security and access to place-based privileges, from tax benefits to quality school. In the late 1970s, intersecting crises of inflation, old age housing, and the rise of immigrant populations, propelled divergent strategies to transform homes into short-term and liquid assets through mortgage and zoning deregulation. In both cases, homeowners and regulators clashed over the desirability of protections that previously were the foundations of asset homeownership. Meanwhile for policymakers, “liquid homeownership” offered a third way between public policy and incentives for private initiative to address the multiple crises of the 1970s.

  • March 13, 2024

    Pat Reilly, Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division of University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business

    Point Break? The Process and Impact of Collaborative Breakdowns in Creative Work

     

  • March 20, 2024

    Paul Leonardi, Ph.D., Department Chair and Duca Family Professor of Technology Management, UC Santa Barbara.

  • May 1, 2024

    Robert Freeland, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin

  • May 8, 2024

    Carly Knight, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, New York University

  • May 15, 2024

    Hayagreeva Rao, Professor of Sociology, Stanford Graduate School of Business