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Work as Foraging: A Smartphone Study of Job Search and Employment after Prison

NCJ Number
American Journal of Sociology Volume: 123 Issue: 5 Dated: 2018 Pages: 1453-1491
Date Published
39 pages
Using over 8,000 daily measures of search and work collected from smartphones distributed to 133 men recently released from prison, this article presents the concept of work as foraging, where people work a variety of extremely precarious opportunities that span across job types.

The past several decades have seen a decline in employment rates and labor force participation, particularly among low-skilled, minority men living in poor areas. As low-skill jobs disappear from poor places, it is a challenge for marginalized job seekers to navigate this landscape. In the current study, sequence analysis methods were used to determine distinct patterns of search and work that unfolded over time, where most people ceased their search efforts after the first month and maintained a state of irregular and varied work. Although there was substantial heterogeneity in patterns, foraging was a common strategy of survival work. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2018