Department of Sociology

Katherine Sobering

PhD, University of Texas at Austin

Katherine Sobering



Political Sociology; Social Movements; Work and Organizations; Gender; Qualitative Methods; Latin America


Katie is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology.  She is broadly interested in the areas of inequality, work, and social movements, especially in alternative work organizations. Since 2008, Katie has conducted ethnographic research in worker-recuperated businesses in Argentina, examining how workers construct alternative organizations and reorganize service work in self-managed workplaces. Her dissertation is a comparative study of organizational innovation and inequality in worker-recuperated businesses in Argentina. 

Katie is also a Graduate Fellow in the Urban Ethnography Lab, a group of faculty and graduate students directed by Dr. Javier Auyero that supports training and research using ethnographic and qualitative methods. She participated in a collaborative, qualitative project on people working to support Austin’s growing “creative class.” The product was the book Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (UT Press 2015). Katie also works with Dr. Christine Williams and Jessica Thomas to examine gender in/equality in worker-owned businesses.

Prior to graduate school, Katie worked in nonprofit organizations and earned a BA in Plan II Honors and International Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

To learn more about Katie or find additional contact information, please visit her website.


SOC 308K • Social Change And The Future

44445 • Spring 2016
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CLA 1.106

Course Description

Inequality is a defining issue of our time. Income inequality has increased significantly and gender, racial/ethnic and class inequities largely define people’s life chances. But what can we do about these pressing social problems? Some propose taxation, others call for an increase in the minimum wage and better social services. Still others consider inequality at it source: “If you don’t want inequality, don’t distribute income unequally in the first place” (Wolff quoted in Dewan 2012).  This course zooms in on the workplace as a possible site of social change. It will begin by taking students back to the Industrial Revolution to examine the emergence of work under capitalism and the production of inequality in work organizations. Next, it will introduce theories of inequality and examine alternative work organizations such as worker cooperatives, analyzing how they compare to capitalist workplaces and how they may address workplace inequality. The second half of the course provides students an opportunity to critically evaluate four proposals to address inequality in the workplace. Overall, the three main learning objectives are: (1) to provide students with a historical understanding of the emergence and nature of capitalist work arrangements; (2) to introduce theories that explain the emergence and persistence of inequality in the workplace; and (3) to critically examine proposals for the future of work.  


This course draws on a variety of readings, including book chapters, journal articles and articles from popular media. All journal articles can be downloaded off the Univeristy of Texas Libraries website. Book chapters can be found in PDF form on Canvas. All books can be purchased in the University Co-op or online. One copy of each will be put on reserve at the PCL.

Exams and Grading

The final grade in the course is made up of a mid-term exam (35%), which will be given the week before spring break, four assignments (20%), regular class participation (10%) and a project (35%) that is due at the end of the semester. There is no final exam for this course.


  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E 23rd St, A1700
    CLA 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086