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Now You See Them, Now You Don't: The Legal Field and Newspaper Desegregation of Sex-Segregated Help Wanted Ads 1965–75

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 December 2018

Abstract

We analyze the timing and extent to which major newspapers in the United States ceased publishing sex-segregated help wanted columns. We situate our study within a specific scholarly literature in organizational sociology and the sociology of law interested in patterns of organizational compliance with U.S. employment law. More specifically, this article is conceptually and theoretically organized around the concept of the “legal field,” defined as the dynamic and emergent interactions among formal law and legal rules, legal officials, self-interested organizations, and the broader political and cultural environment. Content analysis of major U.S. newspapers between 1966 and 1975 indicates that, for nearly five years (1966–70), newspapers collectively refused to desegregate their help wanted columns, despite clear legal rules prohibiting their use. Then, in a comparatively condensed period between 1971 and 1973, virtually all newspapers abruptly abandoned the traditional practice of sorting job ads explicitly by sex.

Type
Symposium: New Legal Realism
Copyright
Copyright © American Bar Foundation, 2006 

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Now You See Them, Now You Don't: The Legal Field and Newspaper Desegregation of Sex-Segregated Help Wanted Ads 1965–75
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