On the Market
Dissertation Title: “Writing Up: Commercial Success, Reputation, and
the Career Pathways of Nashville Songwriters”
Dissertation Chair: Dan Cornfield
Research Interests: Work and Occupations; Cultural Sociology; Social Networks; Cultural Policy
Dissertation Abstract: How might someone create a career out of a series of self driven, informal collaborations? This is the question I ask in my dissertation, as career pathways outside of the boundaries of formal bureaucratic organizations are becoming more common and employment arrangements like freelancing, self-employment, and project-based organization of work are becoming more common.
I use a novel methodological approach to situate a three-level analysis of the career pathways of Nashville songwriters, workers whose employment has always been based on temporary collaborations focused on writing songs. I use publically available measures of which songs were noted as the best of 2000-2015 and connect these songs to their writers to form a quantitative career history, I then map out the social network connections between the writers, lastly, I interview the songs’ writers and construct a more nuanced and agentic narrative around their career histories and trajectories. What emerges from this process are three interrelated stories—at the industry level, how success is distributed in aggregate; at the network level, how success clusters and diffuses among small groups of collaborators; and at the individual level, how individual songwriters talk about their career path and strategies toward building a career in the Nashville songwriting Industry.
This research examines the nexus of cultural production and employment relations in an era and industrial context where matching persons to jobs is becoming less important than matching persons (and their connections) to persons (and their connections). My research will contribute to a better understanding of reputational labor markets and work in informal labor markets by theorizing the social networks of an occupational community as the opportunity structure through which individuals connect to their industry.
Personal website link: www.rachelskaggs.me
Dissertation Title: “Feminist Policy Reforms in Korea: Strategies and Outcomes of the Women’s Movement in Korea”
Dissertation Chair: Holly McCammon
Research Interests: Social Movements; Law and Policy; Women’s Rights; South Korea; Comparative Sociology; Qualitative Research Methods
Dissertation Abstract: My dissertation investigates multiple pathways leading to the success or failure of eleven feminist policy reform campaigns that took place between 1993 and 2007 in South Korea. Previous research on policymaking tends to be state-centered, often explaining policy reform with a focus on lawmakers and policy-making procedure. In my dissertation, I take a societal or citizenship perspective and highlight the role of the women’s movement in influencing gender policy change in South Korea.
My dissertation is organized into three analysis chapters. The first chapter examines how coalitions among different social movement organizations influence legislative policy outcomes. My findings indicate that coalition characteristics, such as coalition size, form, and particularly the quality of its hub (the last, an innovative concept I develop in detail in my chapter), greatly differ between successful and failed policy reform campaigns. The second chapter also analyzes movement strategy, particularly the role of activist framing strategies, strategies that are culturally tailored to resonate with the interests of the public as well as policymakers. In this study, I argue that frame qualities (e.g., frame articulateness and empirically-credible frames) work together to produce political success, rather than having independent effects on movement outcomes. Additionally, I show that non-verbal framing activities, such as strategic silence and identity deployment in framing, are as important as the verbal contents of frames in persuading policymakers. The third chapter investigates the interaction between broad political contexts and social movement strategies. Specifically, I explore the influence of this interaction on gender policy reforms. In this chapter, I also test the hypothesis that strong alliances between activists outside politics (i.e., non-state actors) and political insiders (i.e., state actors) enhance the chance for policy change.
Empirically, my dissertation analyzes qualitative data that I collected during my fieldwork in South Korea between 2013 and 2015, including archival documents and interviews with feminist activists. Utilizing a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) method, I examine the strategic and environmental conditions that explain the success of seven feminist policy reform campaigns and the failure of the other four. This policy comparison responds to a recent scholarly call for systematic empirical research that compares social movement campaigns across policy issues. Moreover, by investigating a non-Western country, South Korea, my dissertation seeks to test theories of policymaking developed largely for Western democratic countries.