I am a social researcher and writer mapping the cultural landscape of contemporary work. Today's work terrain has a rugged allure, with stories of hard work and grit valorizing labor market winners and upholding meritocratic beliefs. These yarns are woven into the fabric of democratic institutions and capitalist economies, but they fit uncomfortably with widespread inequities and limited pathways of social and economic mobility. How do people make sense of this ambiguity and contradiction while taking stock of their own work histories and planning for their futures? How do they knit together myth and everyday experience, and to what end? What are the untold stories of work life, and how might their elevation change how we think about and organize work?
In searching for answers to these questions, I've talked with hundreds of people working across a range of jobs, visited multiple workplaces to see how different work settings operate and scoured responses to survey questions about individuals' work beliefs, decisions and pathways. The accounts I've gathered challenge taken-for-granted notions about sacrifice and success at work and reveal a rich and varied work topography that may be indexed by dominant cultural narratives but can hardly be reduced to them.
I have a PhD in sociology from the University of Virginia, was previously a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sydney Business School, and I have just finished a book titled Trust Fall: Navigating the Perils of Relationships Amid Insecure and Unequal Work that is under contract with University of California Press. You can find my other writing in academic journals, including New Media & Society, Work, Employment & Society, Community, Work & Family, Sociology Compass and Frontiers in Sociology, as well as in more public outlets, such as the Sydney Morning Herald, OECD Forum and various blogs.