I review recent studies of work and occupations. Most of this work proceeds at the individual level, studying individual characteristics of workers, qualities of the work experience, and, to a lesser extent, stages of the work experience. Structural analysis is less common and often treats structural phenomena as aggregates rather than emergents, except in the area of labor relations. A substantial literature—probably a third of the total—examines particular occupations. In general the literature is divided into two “sides”—one focused on gender, inequality, and career/life cycle issues, the other on unions, and industrial and labor relations. Between these are smaller foci on theoretical issues and on general structures of work. I conclude that with the possible exceptions of Marxism and the study of professions, subfields of work and occupations lack the synthetic theory that would enable synthesis of empirical results. I also consider the twofold role of politicization in the area: the positive role of driving empirical investigation of new areas, the negative one of taking its own politics as unproblematic

Keyword(s): genderlabor forcetheoryunions

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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