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Most of my published research examines how earnings are shaped by local contexts– regional, political economic, organizational, and workplace. I conceive of context as constitutive of economic action, emphasizing power in social and economic relations as key for understanding inequality. In these studies I use statistical and archival methods designed to clarify sources of change, including multi-level growth curve models and process tracing. This research helps us understand the causes of rising earnings inequality in the United States since the 1970s; how race and gender shape earnings and access to economic security; and the cultural narratives that are used to explain and justify the status quo.


Branch, Enobong Hannah and Caroline Hanley. Work in Black and White: Striving for the American Dream. New York: Russell Sage Foundation (December 2022)

Journal articles and book chapters

Hanley, Caroline and Enobong Hannah Branch. Forthcoming. “Essential Workers in the United States: An Intersectional Perspective.” Research in the Sociology of Work (special issue “Essentiality of Work” edited by Rick Delbridge, Markus Helfen, Andi Pekarek, and Gretchen Purser)

Hanley, Caroline and Enobong Hannah Branch. 2023. “Insecure Employment Relations in the Post-Civil Rights Period: The Persistence of Racial and Gender Gaps in Hourly Employment.” Issues in Race and Society 11 (Spring):215-258.

Hanley, Caroline. 2021. “Institutionalized Insecurity: Postwar Employment Restructuring and the Symbolic Power of the Local Business ClimateSocio-Economic Review 20, 2 (April):711-732.

Branch, Enobong Hannah and Caroline Hanley. 2017. “A Racial-Gender Lens on Precarious Nonstandard Employment.Research in the Sociology of Work (special issue “Precarious Work: Causes, Characteristics and Consequences” edited by Arne L. Kalleberg and Steven Vallas) v. 31:183-213.

Saporito, Salvatore and Caroline Hanley. 2014. “The Declining Significance of Race? Local Racial Composition and White Private School Enrollment, 1970 to 2000.” Pp. 64-96 in Annette Lareau and Kimberly Goyette, eds. Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Branch, Enobong Hannah and Caroline Hanley. 2014. “Upgraded to Bad Jobs: Low-Wage Black Women’s Relative Status Since 1970.” The Sociological Quarterly 55, 2: 366-395.

Hanley, Caroline and Michael T. Douglass (former W&M student). 2014. “High Road, Low Road, or Off Road? Economic Development Strategies in the American States.” Economic Development Quarterly 28, 3: 220-229.

Hanley, Caroline. 2014. “Putting the Bias in Skill-Biased Technological Change? Postwar White Collar Automation Technologies at General Electric.” American Behavioral Scientist 58(3):400-415.

Branch, Enobong Hannah and Caroline Hanley 2013. “Interrogating Claims of Progress for Black Women since 1970.” Journal of Black Studies 44, 2 (March): 203-226.

Branch, Enobong Hannah and Caroline Hanley. 2011. “Regional Convergence in Low-Wage Work and Earnings, 1970-2000.” Sociological Perspectives 54, 4: 569-592.

Hanley, Caroline. 2011. “Investigating the Organizational Sources of High-Wage Earnings Growth and Rising Inequality.” Social Science Research 40, 3: 902-916.

Hanley, Caroline. 2010-2011. “A Spatial Perspective on Rising Inequality in the United States.” International Journal of Sociology 40, 4 (Winter): 6-30.

Hanley, Caroline. 2010. “Earnings Inequality and Subnational Political Economy in the United States, 1970-2000.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 28: 251-273.