Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Besen-Cassino (sociology, Montclair State Univ., coauthor with Dan Cassino, Consuming Politics: Jon Stewart, Branding, and the Youth Vote in America) counters conventional wisdom that young people take undesirable service-sector jobs only because they need the money. Through interviews of workers age 18 to 21 at East Coast locations of a national coffee chain and quantitative analysis of nationwide and global as well as her own survey data, she documents that most working youth are from affluent families. These young people are motivated to work by nonmonetary factors including friends, merchandise discounts, and companies' branding efforts. The author also offers a critical look at how youth turn to the workplace to fill gaps left by their impersonal educational institutions and at how workforce disparities based on race, gender, and class have their roots in workers' early experiences. The academic argument, however, sometimes seems on shaky ground because the study was limited to workers at a single firm and because it did not look at high school students; the subtitle is misleading. VERDICT Despite some flaws, this engaging read will appeal to scholars of the sociology of work, as well as some high school and college students and their teachers, mentors, and parents. It could also be of great use to those who hire millennials or who work to help economically disadvantaged young people.-Jennifer M. Miller, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Sociologist Besen-Cassino (Montclair State Univ.) draws on qualitative interviews, rich ethnographic observations of an upscale coffee shop, and quantitative data from American and international surveys to make a provocative, largely convincing argument. With some repetition in her presentation, Besen-Cassino contends that the US has a unique pattern of youth work in which affluent, suburban, white college students shop for jobs with branded businesses for status and sociality. Income is secondary. She links this pattern to the power of branding, the lack of other social spaces for youth, and a lack of confidence in the US education system to provide social cohesion, skills, and personal meaning. Consequently, lower-income and minority youth are problematically shut out of retail and service industry jobs as certain employers seek middle- to upper-class employees who have a narrow, desired aesthetic. The book also includes important statistical evidence of an early gendered wage gap. While her qualitative material on gender is sparse, and at times the author seems to overgeneralize from her high-end coffee shop observations, overall Bessen-Cassino's emphasis on the subjective experiences of young workers and her analysis of these experiences adds significantly to the field. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. C. Raby Brock University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Yasemin Besen-Cassino is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Montclair State University. She is the co-author (with Dan Cassino) of Consuming Politics: Jon Stewart, Branding and the Youth Vote in America , and co-editor (with Michael Kimmel) of The Jessie Bernard Reader .