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Title: Finding Work: A Smartphone Study of Job Searching, Social Contacts, and Wellbeing After Prison
Authors: Sugie, Naomi
Advisors: Pager, Devah
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Employment
Job search
Prisoner reentry
Subjects: Sociology
Public policy
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The immediate months after prison are a critical transition period, which can determine future trajectories of successful reintegration or recidivism. Finding employment after prison is considered a key, if not the most important, condition to prevent recidivism; however, individuals face numerous obstacles to finding work. Although many of these barriers have been documented, methodological difficulties prevent a thorough understanding of how they impact the actual job searching and working experiences of individuals at reentry. Using an innovative data collection method--smartphones--this dissertation contributes a detailed portrait of the searching and working trajectories of 156 individuals. Participants were randomly sampled from a complete census of all recent releases to parole in Newark, New Jersey, and were followed for three months. Utilizing these novel data, the dissertation analyzes a) the searching and working experiences of individuals at reentry, b) the use of social contacts for finding employment, and c) the association between emotional wellbeing and job searching. The manuscript also includes a methodological chapter, which describes the strengths and potential challenges of using smartphones with hard-to-reach populations. Analyses of detailed smartphone measures reveal a reentry period characterized by very short-term, irregular, and poor-quality work. There is substantial heterogeneity across searching and working patterns, where older and less advantaged individuals sustain high levels of job searching throughout the three-month study period. In contrast to prevailing notions in reentry scholarship, individuals are not social isolates or deeply distraught about their job searches; rather, they are highly connected to others and feel happier while searching for work. These results indicate that the low employment rates of reentering individuals are not due to person-specific deficiencies of low social connectivity and poor emotional wellbeing. Reentering individuals, however, remain deeply disadvantaged in the labor market, where they compete for work within a structure of deteriorated opportunities for low-skill, urban, and minority jobseekers more generally. Relegated to the lowest rungs of the market, reentering individuals obtain jobs that are very sporadic and precarious. These findings challenge the established idea that finding suitable employment in today's labor market is an attainable goal for reentering individuals.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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