Sticking to it or Opting for Alternatives: Managing Contested Work Identities in Nonstandard Work

Eli R. Wilson*, David Schieber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research shows that people who face stigmatized work identities attempt to reconfigure their employment more positively, such as by concealing their involvement with their jobs or reframing the value of it. Yet, in an era of rising nonstandard work, how might managing work identities also involve managing multiple jobs across fluid employment contexts? We draw insights from two cases of nonstandard workers facing differing degrees of contested work identity—frontline restaurant workers and sex workers. We find that these workers use similar strategies to manage their employment that involve identity work and job searching, yet their decision to stick to their line of work or opt for alternatives stems in part from the symbolic characteristics of their respective jobs. We conclude by laying out a broader framework for how workers manage contested work identities in an era of nonstandard employment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-239
Number of pages21
JournalQualitative Sociology
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Nonstandard work
  • Restaurant work
  • Sex work
  • Stigma
  • Work identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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