Sociology of Publishing Careers: The Mechanisms of Labour Recruitment in the UK Publishing Sector

Pui-yan (Flora) Lau
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The job market signalling model provides a theoretical ground for my discussion of social networking in the job market. The basic idea of job market signalling is that there is information asymmetry between employers and job applicants. Whereas employers have imperfect information about job applicants, job applicants know their abilities vis-a-vis the job and they know if they are attempting to hide something or dupe the employer. In the recruitment process, job applicants need to send signals (e.g. level of education and work experiences) to show that they are good enough for the job. Yet, it is possible that applicants mimic the signals. In this circumstance, employers tend to look for a third party guarantor during recruitment. This is where the value of social network lies in. Based on the results of semi-structured interviews with forty publishers in the UK between late 2005 and early 2006, I will first discuss the traits the employers look for in job applicants and the reasons they place importance on these traits. I will then discuss to what extent employers trust signs like CVs and reference letters. According to my interview results, employers refer to the existing social network for a third party guarantor as they see that reputation of the job applicants is the determining factor in recruitment. For the rest of the presentation, I will discuss the mechanisms of how employers turn to reference and reputation when doing recruitment. I will also discuss the mechanisms of job application – how applicants present advantageous signals and how they establish their reputation all the way through the publishing career.

Keywords: Publishing, Careers, Social network, Signalling, Reputation, Reference
Stream: Publishing
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Pui-yan (Flora) Lau

D.Phil Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK

I am doing a final year D. Phil at Department of Sociology, University of Oxford. My doctoral project is on the mechanisms by which social networks help labour recruitment (from employer’s perspective) and career progressions (from employee’s perspective) in the UK publishing sector. To facilitate this project, I made tremendous effort to participate in all kinds of publishing-related events and to play an active role in a publishing association in Oxford. All interviewees were contacted through snowballing. My academic expertise lies in social network analysis, qualitative research, signalling theory and work and employment. In the past few years, I took up a couple of teaching responsibilities (both tutorship and lecturership) in Oxford and in Hong Kong, my place of origin.

Ref: B07P0073