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A Racial-Gender Lens on Precarious Nonstandard Employment

Precarious Work

ISBN: 978-1-78743-288-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-287-1

Publication date: 19 December 2017


We critique existing literature on the rise of precarious work because of its inattention to the historical organization of work by race and gender. We use intersectional theory to develop a racial–gender lens on precarious work, asking how do race, gender, and educational attainment shape exposure to insecure work. Historically, Blacks pursued education to mitigate against labor market discrimination with uneven success. Education has traditionally protected against exposure to precarious employment, but this association has weakened in recent years and the persistence of differential returns to human capital suggests that the relationship between education and insecure work may be racially contingent. We assess risk of exposure to precarious nonstandard work for racial and gender groups from 1979 to 2015 using data drawn from the CPS-MORG. We find that education is not equally protective across demographic groups and over time, contributing to inequality in access to stable, standard employment.




This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1424140. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Analysis was performed using computational facilities at the College of William and Mary, which were provided with assistance from the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Port Authority, and Virginia’s Commonwealth Technology Research Fund. Order of authorship is alphabetical and does not represent differences in the contributions of the authors.


Branch, E.H. and Hanley, C. (2017), "A Racial-Gender Lens on Precarious Nonstandard Employment", Kalleberg, A.L. and Vallas, S.P. (Ed.) Precarious Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 31), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 183-213.



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