Exit Tales: How Precarious Workers Navigate Bad Jobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Why do some workers quit undignified “bad jobs,” while others persist in them? We know a great deal about how people find employment, along with what they do at work. But we have few studies documenting the lived experience of quitting a bad job. Recent structural transformations, such as the demise of Fordism and the curtailment of welfare, have surely recalibrated the strategies by which precarious individuals navigate the labor market. This article, an ethnography that follows a single cohort of call center employees over nine months, documents four main pathways through which such workers leave versus stay in their jobs. It argues that the emergent class of precarious workers is not homogenous. Gender, race, and age intersect with class to shape how one experiences a given bad job.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-599
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • job quality
  • poverty
  • turnover
  • unemployment
  • work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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