Events & Media

Lecture Series

Paul DiMaggio, NYU

When Content is King: Using Topic Models to Analyze Online Innovation Crowdsourcing at IBM
DiMaggio poster

Over the past twenty years, a major development in firms’ innovation strategies has been the emergence of crowdsourcing as a tool to stimulate new ideas. A growing literature has examined the process by which ideas are winnowed from such discussions for further develop¬ment. This talk focuses upon a surprisingly neglected factor: the substantive content of em¬ploy¬ee interventions. We demonstrate the utility of topic modeling as an approach to extracting thematic information about discussion content and serving as a basis for identifying significant collective concerns and the degree of consensus around them, the alignment of posts with both elite and consensus emphases, and evidence for deliberative learning during discussion threads. We use this approach to analyze an influential example of such discussions and demonstrate that posts selected to exemplify promising ideas for innovation emphasized particular themes, were aligned with cues from organizational elites as well as reflecting broader topical emphases, and were both generative of and influenced by relatively long ex¬changes. Finally, we consider feat¬ures of the discussion design and selection process that may have accounted for the results we report.

Lecture Series

Andy Summers, London School of Economics

A sociological analysis of the UK’s global elite: evidence from tax records
Summers poster

The UK has proved an attractive destination for the world’s top earners and high net wealth individuals. In 2017, around one quarter of the top 1% by income originally came from abroad, rising to one third amongst the top 0.1% and to nearly four in ten of those within the top 0.01%. Although many of these migrants settle permanently, the UK offers a special tax regime to those who maintain foreign connections, who are known as ‘non-doms’ (i.e. individuals not domiciled in the UK). In the popular imagination, non-doms epitomise a globalised economic elite, simultaneously exerting significant influence within British society, yet remaining weakly tied to the place where they live. We use administrative tax data covering every individual who claimed ‘non-dom’ status from 1997-2017 to provide the first sociological anatomy of this enigmatic group. We will present our initial findings on their national origins and the neighbourhoods within which they live, allowing us to explore the non-dom population on scales from the global down to local. We will also outline an agenda for further work on the sociology of elites in the UK.

Lecture Series

Lucas Drouhot, Max Planck Institute

Cracks in the Melting Pot? Religiosity and Assimilation among the Diverse Muslim Population in France
Drouhot poster

The maintenance of high religiosity levels among Muslim youths in Western Europe constitutes a puzzle in need of an explanation. Focusing on France and using a new empirical strategy for the quantitative study of cultural differences between heterogeneous populations, this study first demonstrates that French Muslims form a diverse group yet one with a consistent and sizable “religiosity differential” resisting intergenerational assimilation to native levels. It then formulates and tests five hypotheses to explain the second generation’s delayed religious assimilation. Material insecurity, the perception and self-report of discrimination, parental religious socialization, transnational ties with the origin country, and neighborhood ethnic segregation are all influential but with an uneven impact across subgroups within native and Muslim populations. Together, results suggest that the religiosity differential stems from a mixture of cultural transmission from the context of origin and blocked acculturation due to stratification and social closure in the context of destination.

Lecture Series

Walter Powell, Stanford

Seeing Like a Philanthropist: From the Business of Benevolence to the Benevolence of Business
Powell poster

Over the course of American history, philanthropists have been both praised and pilloried, depicted as redeemers of democracy and a threat to it. Despite the shifting social terrain in which they have operated, philanthropists — and the organizations they create — have grown in number and influence, acting as a catalytic force in the genesis and development of the modern nonprofit sector. Philanthropic largesse has also played a powerful role in shaping civic life and political affairs. We argue that it is important to understand not only how philanthropists are seen, but also how they see. In narrating the development of American philanthropy from the late 19th to the early 21st centuries, our aim is to capture changes in what it means to “see like a philanthropist”—that is, to illuminate the meanings and ends of philanthropic wealth. We focus on three core influences on philanthropic visions: (1) the sources of philanthropic wealth, (2) its organizational embodiments, and (3) the criticisms leveled at its outsized influence. We examine the reciprocal dynamic between political challenges to elite power and philanthropic visions. We show that philanthropists have transposed the practices they used to earn their great fortunes into the organizational routines of their philanthropies and turned these into requirements for those who receive their funding. The actions of past philanthropists weigh heavily on future philanthropists, Consequently, the political might of philanthropy both channels and enables the critiques to which its influence is subjected. In narrating this long arc of history, we show how the super-rich’s perceptions of themselves and their role in public life have evolved as well as the myriad ways philanthropy has altered civic and political discourse.

Older Entries →← Newer Entries
citation engraving
“Actors do not behave or decide as atoms outside a social context ... Their attempts at purposive action are instead embedded in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations.”— Mark Granovetter