After multiple decades stumbling in the status attainment wilderness, the sociological study of inequality is now cultivating a new garden: the workplace generation of inequalities. While our theories have long focused on contextually embedded social relations – often in production – as generating inequality, our methods have lagged, focusing instead on individual status attainment, abstracted from social relations including those at work. In this chapter, we outline first how we got into this mess, and then advocate a principled comparative methodological framework for studying the organizational generation of durable inequalities. We highlight the particular contribution of Randy Hodson to the original critique of individualistic status attainment research and his role in developing alternative methodologies, some of which we think should be further developed today.
Building on relational inequality theory, this paper incorporates social capital as a device to trace the flow of resources through relationships originating within and…
Building on relational inequality theory, this paper incorporates social capital as a device to trace the flow of resources through relationships originating within and beyond organizations. I draw on a survey of over 1,700 lawyers to evaluate key dynamics of social capital that shape earnings: bridging and bonding, reciprocity exchanges and sponsorship, and boundary maintenance. The findings show social capital lends a lift to law graduates through bridges to professional careers and sponsorship following job entry. Racial minorities, however, suffer a shortfall of personal networks to facilitate job searches, and once having secured jobs, minorities experience social closure practices by clients and colleagues that disadvantage them in their professional work. A sizeable earnings gap remains between racial minority and white lawyers after controlling for human and social capitals, social closure practices, and organizational context. This earnings gap is particularly large among racial minorities with more years of experience and those working in large law firms. The findings demonstrate the importance of identifying the interrelations that connect social network and organizational context to impact social inequality.