|DiMaggio Garip 2012 ARS||1022 KB|
Students of social inequality have noted the presence of mechanisms militating toward cumulative advantage and increasing inequality. Social scientists have established that in-‐ dividuals’ choices are influenced by those of their network peers in many social domains. We suggest that the ubiquity of network effects and tendencies towards cumulative advant-‐ age are related. Inequality is exacerbated when effects of individual differences are multi-‐ plied by social networks: when persons must decide whether to adopt beneficial practices; network externalities, social learning, or normative pressure influence adoption decisions; and 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 dif-‐ ferences in initial endowments alone; consider cases where network effects may amelior-‐ ate inequality; and describe research priorities.