Wittek, Mark (2022). Interpersonal Status Systems. An Inquiry into Social Networks and Status Dynamics in Schools, Science, and Hollywood. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Status systems—vertical orders among persons according to differences in social recognition—are a ubiquitous feature of human societies. Vast streams of research developed to explore how status structures social life. This thesis proposes a unified framework for studying the interplay between social status and social networks. The framework highlights the importance of contextual characteristics for the emergence of status systems in various settings and complements approaches that focus on how individuals gain and perpetuate status. Theoretical expectations derived from this perspective are tested by applying a combination of exponential random graph models and other network-analytical tools to three different empirical settings. The first application investigates whether the structure of friendships and status ascriptions among more than 23,000 adolescents is sensitive to contextual characteristics such as the size or demographic composition of classrooms and grade levels. The second study examines collaboration networks among more than 7,000 neuroblastoma researchers over 40 years. Here, the investigation focuses on changes in the stratification and segregation of collaboration networks as a scientific field grows and matures. Similarly, the third study investigates the interplay between culture, status, and networks among Hollywood filmmakers from 1930 through 2000 by using information on artistic references and collaborations of more than 13,000 filmmakers retrieved from the Internet movie database (IMDb). The results illustrate that the link between status and networks intensifies under certain contextual conditions. One key finding is that larger contexts exhibit networks marked by status recognition in all empirical settings: larger school classes and grade levels produce leading crowds more often than smaller ones, the scientific field of neuroblastoma research developed an elite of researchers as it grew, and social recognition is distributed increasingly unequal during periods in which Hollywood attracted more filmmakers. The thesis closes by comparing the different settings in greater detail and by discussing directions for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-641180
Date: November 2022
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Sociology and Social Psychology > Department of Scociology
Subjects: Social sciences
General statistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Social NetworksUNSPECIFIED
Computational Social ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Date of oral exam: 17 October 2022
NameAcademic Title
Kroneberg, ClemensProf. Dr.
Kruse, HannoProf. Dr.
van Tubergen, FrankProf. Dr.
Funders: European Research Council (ERC) starting grant under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 716461).
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/64118


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