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 ( for additional details, or if you wish to be added to the mailing list to receive updates. 

Spring 2023

  • September 20, 2023

    Clayton Childress, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, The University of British Columbia.

    Tokenism and its Long-term Consequences: Evidence from the Literary Field

    Research on tokenism has mostly focused on negative experiences and career outcomes for individuals who are tokenized. Comparatively understudied are tokenism as a structural system that excludes larger populations, and the meso-level cultural foundations under which tokenism occurs. We focus on these other sides of tokenism using original data on the creation and long-term retention of postcolonial literature. In an institutional environment in which the British publishing industry was consolidating the production of non-U.S. global literatures written in English and readers were beginning to convey status through openness in cultural tastes, the conditions for tokenism emerged. Relying on data on the emergence of postcolonial literature as a category organized through the Booker Prize for Fiction, we test and find for nonwhite authors (1) evidence of tokenism, (2) unequal treatment of those under consideration for tokenization, and (3) long-term retention consequences for those who were not chosen. We close with a call for more holistic work on both sides of tokenism, analyses that address inequality across and within groups, and a reconsideration of tokenism within a broader suite of practices that have grown ascendent across arenas of social life. 

  • October 4, 2023

    Mai Hassan, Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

    Who Gets Hired? Political Patronage and Bureaucratic Favoritism* 

    Most research on hiring in the public sector highlights the incentives of local politicians to distribute government positions to partisan supporters. Other studies separately point to the role of bureaucratic managers in allocating government jobs to close contacts. We jointly consider the relative importance of each source of biased hiring as an allocation problem between bureaucratic managers and politicians who have different preferences over public sector hiring and different abilities to realize them. We develop a theoretical model of both the relative preferences for different types of public sector positions and the relative leverage of each actor. We examine the theory empirically on the universe of payroll data in Kenyan local governments from 2004 to 2013. We find evidence of both patronage and bureaucratic fa-voritism, but with different types of bias concentrated in different types of government jobs, as predicted by our theory for the Kenyan case. Together, this paper suggests the inadequacy of examining political patronage alone without incorporating the preferences and leverage of the bureaucratic managers who are intricately involved in hiring processes.

  • December 6, 2023

    John N. Robinson III, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Princeton University,