Work and Labour, Inequality, Gender, Social Policy
My research centres on understanding the dark side of labour markets – inequality and insecurity. Most of us rely on paid employment to get by. However, we do not always work on equal terms, or in ways that provide adequate economic security. I am interested in understanding how entrenched patterns of inequality in the labour market develop and erode, and in the implications of changing employment relations for workers’ prospects for security and mobility.
Parenting pay gaps: Most mothers in Canada are engaged in paid employment, but gendered norms of parenting and work continue to work to their career disadvantage. At the same time, fathers typically earn more than men without children. Why is this so? Does the kind of organization in which parents work matter? How exactly do differences in organizational practices and structures affect whether and how motherhood limits and fatherhood accelerates career opportunities? Are the dynamics similar or different for men and women in different kinds of jobs and with different qualifications? Much extant research on parenting pay gaps uses individual-level or cross-national data to focus on the micro and macro correlates of (dis)advantage. My research is focusing instead at the intersection of individuals and organizations, using linked employer-employee data to investigate the important ways that organizational dynamics and structures shape career opportunities and barriers for parents. I have recently published papers from this research in Social Forces (2018), Journal of Marriage and Family (2018), Work and Occupations (2018), and Work, Employment and Society (2018).
Job quality and precarious employment: A second broad strand of my research revolves around questions related to labour market inequalities and economic restructuring. I have investigated the consequences of increasing job mobility on diverging wage trajectories among young workers (American Sociological Review 2008), the impact of government downsizing on the gender wage gap (Canadian Journal of Sociology 2005), and the relationship between temporary employment and wage inequalities at the intersection of gender, ‘race’, and immigration status (Social Indicators Research 2008). I am also particularly interested in understanding the degree to which experiences of employment precarity are transitory or long-term, an issue which I have explored with a number of detailed longitudinal analyses of temporary workers’ employment pathways (Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 2011, Social Science Research 2015, Canadian Review of Sociology 2014). A recent paper pairs analysis of collective agreement provisions with comparison of temporary and permanent worker wage trajectories to explore the degree to which temporary employment represents an axis of segmentation in the public sector (Work, Employment, and Society 2018). More recently, I have become interested in exploring issues around economic security and unpredictable, non-standard, and variable work hours.
Immigration and Labour Market Integration: As industrialized countries increasingly rely on immigration to sustain labor markets, a key puzzle is to understand how immigrants integrate into the labor force and why some experience more difficulty than others. Are human capital endowments the key? Does the nature of immigrants’ social connections and the resources available within households and ethnic communities make the most difference? How important is the way the established population responds to different ethnic and racial groups? In my line of research on immigration (International Migration Review 2012, 2015), I have focused on understanding what shapes employment trajectories for new immigrants after their arrival in a new country, and the consequences of differences in employment pathways among otherwise similar immigrants.
Inequality, economic security, and social policy: While much of my research has been quantitative, I have also collaborated on longitudinal qualitative research focused on understanding the impact of changing welfare policy on the lives of lone mothers and their children. In particular, I have explored the implications of a shift to “active citizenship” in welfare policy, which has been defined in policy discourse chiefly in terms of citizen obligations to engage in paid employment. In articles in Social Politics (2008), Citizenship Studies (2008), and Critical Social Policy (2010) I have interrogated the meaning of this shift for women in relation to male violence, volunteering, and coercive gendered employment norms. Throughout, I have been concerned with examining not only the gendered assumptions embedded in legislative and policy changes, but also how citizenship is given meaning through mothers’ engagement with its implementation in their daily lives. A further paper in Social Politics (2012) compares a decade of administrative data from two provinces to reveal a medicalizing trend in the classification of welfare recipients and to shed light on the critical gendered effects of ostensibly gender-neutral welfare reform.
Fuller, Sylvia and Qian, Yue. 2021. “COVID-19 and the Gender Gap in Employment Among Parents of Young Children in Canada”. Gender & Society
Treleaven, Christina and Sylvia Fuller. 2021. “BB see: Transparency Legislation and Public Discussions of Wage Inequality”. Canadian Review of Sociology 58(1): 7-24. (30%)
Qian, Yue, and Sylvia Fuller. 2020. “COVID-19 and the Gender Employment Gap among Parents of Young Children.” Canadian Public Policy 46 (S2): S89-S101. (40%)
Hirsh, C. Elizabeth Hirsh, Christina Treleavin, and Sylvia Fuller “Caregivers, Gender, and the Law: An Analysis of Family Responsibility Discrimination” Gender and Society 34(5): 760-789 (20%).
Antonini, Matteo, Pullman, Ashley, Sylvia Fuller and Lesley Andres (2020) “Pre-and Postpartum Employment Patterns: Comparing Leave Policy Reform in Canada and Switzerland” Community, Work & Family: DOI: 10.1080/13668803.2020.1752620 (30%).
Wu, Cary, Sylvia Fuller, Zhilei Shi and Rima Wilkes (2020) “The Gender Gap in Commenting: Women are relatively less likely than men to comment on (men’s) published research” PLOS-ONE 15(4).
Stecy-Hildebrant, Natasha, Sylvia Fuller and Alisyn Burns (2019) “‘Bad’ Jobs in a ‘Good’ Sector: Examining the Employment Outcomes of Temporary Work in the Canadian Public Sector”, Work, Employment and Society 33(4): 560-579 (40%).
Fuller, Sylvia and C. Elizabeth Hirsh (2019) “‘Family Friendly’ Jobs and Motherhood Career Penalties: The Impact of Flexible Work Arrangements Across the Educational Spectrum“. Work and Occupations. 46(1): 3-44.
*free postprint version available here
Cooke, Lynne Prince, and Sylvia Fuller. (2018) “Class Differences in Between- versus Within-Firm Net Fatherhood Wage Premiums: Insights from Canada” Journal of Marriage and Family. 80(3): 737-751
Fuller, Sylvia, and Lynne Prince Cooke (2018) “Workplace Variation in Fatherhood Wage Premiums: Do Formalization and Performance Pay Matter?” Work, Employment, and Society 32(4): 768-788
Stecy-Hildebrant, Natasha, Sylvia Fuller, and Alisyn Burns (2019) “‘Bad’ Jobs in a ‘Good’ Sector: Examining the Employment Outcomes of Temporary Work in the Canadian Public Sector” Work, Employment, and Society 33(4): 560-579
Fuller, Sylvia (2017) “Segregation across Workplaces and the Motherhood Wage Gap: Why do Mothers Work in Low-Wage Establishments?” Social Forces 96(4): 1443-1476.
Fuller, Sylvia, and Lynn Prince Cooke (2018) “Workplace Variation in Fatherhood Wage Premiums: Do Formalization and Performance Pay Matter?” Work, Employment and Society, 32(4): 768-788