Department of Sociology

Katherine Hill


Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

Katherine Hill

Contact

Interests


Social Inequality, Work and Organizations, Economic Sociology, Race and Ethnicity, Research Methods

Biography


Katherine Hill is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.She is also a graduate trainee in the Population Research Center and an Ethnography Lab Fellow. Her research agenda examines the intersection of stratification and inequality, work and organizations, and culture. Her research uses mixed methods to examine the material and cultural conditions of work that contribute to inequality.

Katherine has published sole-authored research in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity using ethnography and interviews to examine inequality in immigrant-owned restaurants and finds that labor segmentation results in varied degrees of wage inequality, surveillance, and exposure to hazardous working conditions. 

Katherine’s dissertation examines the on-demand work in the gig economy such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart and focuses on the following questions: 1) Which gig workers benefit from the gig economy and how?  2) How do workers make sense of their entrance into and work in the gig economy? and 3) How does dependence on earnings from gig work shape psychological distress? Katherine uses 48 in-depth interviews with gig workers and analysis of original data collected through a nation-wide survey fielded through social media advertisements. 

Overall, Katherine argues that despite widespread evidence of exploitative working conditions and low wages, Americans turn to gig work as a safety net when traditional forms of work fail. For example, the gig economy provides work to those who need flexible or ad hoc work such as people with disabilities or school teachers without summer employment. The inherent economic insecurity in gig work leads to varied understandings of gig work. Katherine finds that downwardly mobile workers rely on a framework of self-reliance to distance themselves from the low status associated with gig work. Furthermore, White gig workers are most likely to experience psychological distress due to dependence on gig work. This research sheds light on the conditions that lead workers to enter into and continue to do work that ultimately exploits them.

Prior to graduate school, Katherine taught English and Debate at a high school in South Korea as a Fulbright Fellow, interned at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and worked at as program coordinator at International Student Conferences. Katherine has volunteered as a English teacher for North Korean defectors, with the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and with the Women's Shelter of Central Arkansas.

Curriculum Vitae


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  • Department of Sociology

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