- The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- About the Contributors
- What is Analytical Sociology All About? An Introductory Essay
- Analytical Sociology and Theories of the Middle Range
- Social Dynamics from the Bottom Up: Agent-Based Models of Social Interaction
- Segregation Dynamics
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
- Social Influence: The Puzzling Nature of Success in Cultural Markets
- The Contagiousness of Divorce
- Collective Action
- Conditional Choice
- Network Dynamics
- Threshold Models of Social Influence
- Time and Scheduling
- Homophily and the Focused Organization of Ties
- Dominance Hierarchies
- Game Theory
- Analytic Ethnography
- Historical Sociology
- Name Index
- Subject Index
Abstract and Keywords
This article examines the role of social influence in the puzzling nature of success in cultural markets: successful cultural products, such as hit songs, best-selling books, and blockbuster movies, are considerably more successful than average; yet which particular songs, books, and movies will become the next ‘big thing’ appears impossible to predict. The article investigates this paradox empirically by constructing a website where more than 27,000 participants were allowed to listen to, rate, and download new music, and where the information that these participants had about the behavior of others could be controlled. In the first three experiments, the popularity of the songs were allowed to emerge naturally, without any intervention. In the fourth experiment, the problem of self-fulfilling prophecies in cultural markets was addressed. The results show that social influence gives rise to unanticipated consequences at the collective level, including inequality and unpredictability of success.
Duncan J. Watts is a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research, where he directs the Human Social Dynamics group. He is also an adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University, an external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute, and an associate member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford. His research interests include the structure and evolution of social networks, the origins and dynamics of social influence, and the nature of distributed ‘social’ search. He is the author of Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003) and Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks between Order and Randomness (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999). He holds a B.Sc. In physics from the University of South Wales and a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University.
Matthew J. Salganik is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University. His research interests include sampling methods for hidden populations such as drug injectors and sex workers, social networks, fads, and web-based social science.
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