Area(s) of Interest
Economic Sociology; Political Sociology; Financialization; Labor and Social Movements; Inequality; the Welfare State; Global Capitalism; Mixed-Methods.
"Labor's Assets: Unions, Pensions, and Capital Strategies in the American Labor Movement."
My dissertation asks, “Do unions use financial capital in ways that advance or hinder the American labor movement?” Unions have a significant interest in financial markets today due to the large asset-ownership of their pension funds. I examine unions as investors and as activists of “labor’s capital” — workers’ retirement savings — in both public and private equity markets. As a mixed-methods scholar, I deploy interview and statistical methods to answer this animating question. In interviews with union “capital strategists/stewards,” I identify the tactics by which organized labor uses asset-ownership to mobilize demands on corporations and asset-managers and pinpoint the structural opportunities and barriers to this activism. In a novel dataset I built at the level of local union chapters, I connect unions to their assets and liabilities: tracing the relationships between their activism to their financial investments and funding status. My research seeks to illuminate both the political possibilities and pitfalls before workers in our financialized and stratified political economy. My work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, among other organizations.
Wiggs, Devin. 2022. “City of Standards: London and the Rise of LIBOR in Global Finance.” Economy & Society 51(3): 398-421.
Wiggs, Devin and Beth Redbird. 2021. “Monopolization and Rent-Seeking,” pgs. 33-42 in Inequality in America: Causes and Consequences of the Rich-Poor Divide. Santa Barbara, CA; ABC-CLIO."