Lecture Videos

Yu Xie, Princeton University

“Long-Term Trends in Intergenerational and Multigenerational Occupational Mobility in the United States 1850-2013”, by Yu Xie, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Sociology and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University, presented at the Center for the Study of Economy and Society, Cornell University, on November 30th, 2017.


We examine long-term trends in social mobility in the U.S. from 1850 to the present, a period spanning two eras of exceptionally high economic inequality, the 1870s to 1900 and the 1970s to the present. We will utilize newly available data that include several million linked household and population records from 1850-2013 to better understand changes in mobility and its relation to social inequality. Findings from this study provide the first depiction of long-term continuity and change in the rates and patterns of occupational mobility in the face of dramatic historical changes spanning more than 150 years.

Based on ongoing collaboration with Xi Song at the University of Chicago, Karen A. Rolf at University of Nebraska at Omaha, Joseph P. Ferrie at the Northwestern University, and Catherine G. Massey at the University of Michigan.

The Future of the Social Sciences

The Center for the Study of Economy and Society at Cornell University was delighted to host a workshop on October 3rd, 2014 on the “Future of the Social Sciences” at the Cornell Club New York City. The format of the workshop was centered around discussion panels on 4 core themes and short background papers. The selected panels were structured around the following research areas: 1) Big Questions for the Social Sciences in the 21st Century, 2) Changes in Research Designs, 3) Blurring of Disciplinary Boundaries, and 4) Innovation, Change and Emergence.

The guest list for the Future of the Social Sciences workshop included the following scholars: Steven Strogatz, Francesca Trivellato, John Padget, Victor Nee, Barnaby Marsh, Duncan Watts, Russell Hardin, Sonja Opper, Siegwart Lindenberg, Delia Baldassarri, and Peyton Young.

The Future of the Social Sciences Videos

Future of the Social Sciences: Introduction
Victor Nee, Cornell University
Barnaby Marsh, John Templeton Foundation

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 2
Russell Harding, New York University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 3
Duncan Watts, Microsoft Research

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 4
Delia Baldassarri, New York University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 5
Peyton Young, Oxford University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 6
Steven Strogratz, Cornell University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 7
Siegwart Lindenberg, University of Groningen

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 8
Sonja Opper, Lund University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 9
Francesca Trivellato, Yale University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 10
Victor Nee, Cornell University

Future of the Social Sciences: Part 11
John Padget, University of Chicago

Future of the Social Sciences: Conclusion
Victor Nee, Cornell University
Barnaby Marsh, John Templeton Foundation

Lecture Videos

Is Neoliberalism Over? by Monica Prasad

We are pleased to present our CSES Lecture Series on April 17th, 2014 at Cornell University from 4:30 to 6PM in the A.D. White House, Guerlac Room. Monica Prasad presented her research “Is Neoliberalism Over?”


By neoliberalism I mean a set of policies built around a faith in the free market, and a strong distrust of state intervention. In the United States, we have witnessed a rise in policies of this sort in the last three decades, starting with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In his first inaugural address Reagan said quote “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”; in his lighter moments, Reagan’s joke was “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Reagan’s anti-government approach to government has been a stable presence in American politics ever since. We saw it catch fire again under the presidency of George W. Bush, and we have seen it flare up most recently in the rise of the Tea Party. But there are reasons to wonder whether this era of American neoliberalism might be drawing to a close. For example, nearly half of the American public now holds a negative image of the Tea Party and its extreme anti-government stance, compared with only a third who view it favorably. And Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and they hold one house of Congress today partly thanks to gerrymandering. So, has this era of American history come to a close? Is neoliberalism over?

About the Speaker

Monica Prasad’s areas of interest are economic sociology, comparative historical sociology, and political sociology. Her book The Politics of Free Markets (University of Chicago Press, 2006) won the 2007 Barrington Moore Award from the American Sociological Assocation’s (ASA) section on comparative and historical sociology. Prasad has also published an edited volume on the sociology of taxation, co-edited with Isaac Martin and Ajay Mehrotra, called The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Her most recent book is The Land of Too Much: American Abundance and the Paradox of Poverty (Harvard University Press, 2012), which has received three awards, including the 2013 Barrington Moore Award and the Viviana Zelizer Award from the ASA section on economic sociology. Prasad is the recipient of several awards including a Fulbright to the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris in 2011 and a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies also in 2011. She received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award in 2009. With this funding, she and project manager Elisabeth Anderson are conducting a cross-national and longitudinal study of the relationship between income tax progressivity and welfare state spending. Prasad’s most recent book The Land of Too Much develops a demand-side theory of comparative political economy to explain the surprisingly large role of the state in the United States, its origins in the 19th-century revolution in agricultural productivity, and its consequences for undermining a European-style welfare state and leaving U.S. economic growth dependent on “mortgage Keynesianism.” She is currently researching a book manuscript on the Reagan-era tax cut of 1981 and conducting investigations into several aspects of taxation and development with graduate students.

Lecture Videos

Classification Situations: Life-Chances in the Neoliberal Era by Marion Fourcade

We are pleased to present our CSES Lecture Series on March 27th, 2014 at Cornell University from 4:30 to 6PM in the A.D. White House, Guerlac Room. Marion Fourcade presented her research “Classification Situations: Life-Chances in the Neoliberal Era.”


This article examines the stratifying effects of economic classifications. We argue that in the neoliberal era market institutions increasingly use actuarial techniques to split and sort individuals into classification situations that shape life-chances. While this is a general and increasingly pervasive process, our main empirical illustration comes from the transformation of the credit market in the United States. This market works as both as a leveling force and as a condenser of new forms of social difference. The U.S. banking and credit system has greatly broadened its scope over the past twenty years to incorporate previously excluded groups. We observe this leveling tendency in the expansion of credit amongst lower-income households, the systematization of overdraft protections, and the unexpected and rapid growth of the fringe banking sector. But while access to credit has democratized, it has also differentiated. Scoring technologies classify and price people according to credit risk. This has allowed multiple new distinctions to be made amongst the creditworthy, as scores get attached to different interest rates and loan structures. Scores have also expanded into markets beyond consumer credit, such as insurance, real estate, employment, and elsewhere. The result is a cumulative pattern of advantage and disadvantage with both objectively measured and subjectively experienced aspects. We argue these private classificatory tools are increasingly central to the generation of “market-situations”, and thus an important and overlooked force that structures individual life-chances. In short, classification situations may have become the engine of modern class situations.

About the Speaker

Marion Fourcade received her PhD from Harvard University (2000) and taught at New York University and Princeton University before joining the Berkeley sociology department in 2003. A comparative sociologist by training and taste, she is interested in variations in economic and political knowledge and practice across nations. Her first book, Economists and Societies (Princeton University Press 2009), explored the distinctive character of the discipline and profession of economics in three countries. She is now working on a second book, tentatively called Measure for Measure: Social Ontologies of Classification, which examines the cultural and institutional logic of what we may call “national classificatory styles” across a range of empirical domains. Current studies for this book include environmental valuation, the digitization of books and the classification of wines in France and the United States. Other ongoing research focuses on the role of the credit market in social stratification (with Kieran Healy); the comparative study of political organization (with Evan Schofer and Brian Lande); the microsociology of courtroom exchanges (with Roi Livne); and the role of business schools in the neoliberal turn (with Rakesh Khurana).

Interview Series

CSES Interview Series: Gerald Davis

The Economy & Society Interview Series is a casual yet intellectually engaging conversation with leading scholars throughout the social sciences. The interview series is produced by the Center for the Study of Economy and Society (CSES) at Cornell University. In this interview, Gerald F. Davis–the Wilbur K. Pierpont Collegiate Professor of Management at the Ross School of Business and Professor of Sociology, The University of Michigan–discusses his educational background, research trajectory, recent book and empirical findings, insights into sociology and economics, and future trends in research.

Oxford University Press:
Managed by the Markets: How Finance Re-Shaped America

Gerald (Jerry) F. Davis

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“The great bulk of controls over social behavior are not external but built into the relationships themselves.”— George Homans