Network Effects and Social Inequality

Posted: 16 Jul 2012

See all articles by Paul DiMaggio

Paul DiMaggio

Princeton University - Sociology Department and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Filiz Garip

Harvard University

Date Written: August 2012

Abstract

Students of social inequality have noted the presence of mechanisms militating toward cumulative advantage and increasing inequality. Social scientists have established that individuals' choices are influenced by those of their network peers in many social domains. We suggest that the ubiquity of network effects and tendencies toward cumulative advantage are related. Inequality is exacerbated when effects of individual differences are multiplied by social networks: when persons must decide whether to adopt beneficial practices; when network externalities, social learning, or normative pressures influence adoption decisions; and when networks are homophilous with respect to individual characteristics that predict such decisions. We review evidence from literatures on network effects on technology, labor markets, education, demography, and health; identify several mechanisms through which networks may generate higher levels of inequality than one would expect based on differences in initial endowments alone; consider cases in which network effects may ameliorate inequality; and describe research priorities.

Suggested Citation

DiMaggio, Paul and Garip, Filiz, Network Effects and Social Inequality (August 2012). Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 38, pp. 93-118, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2106193 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.012809.102545

Paul DiMaggio (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Sociology Department and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

HOME PAGE: www.princeton.edu/~dimaggio/

Filiz Garip

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
586
PlumX Metrics