AMIR GOLDBERG. Searching for Homo Economicus: Heterogeneity in the Structure of Americans’ Normative Positions on Markets

Monday, March 4, 2013 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Sociologists often describe homo-economicus – the calculatively rational and self-interested species animating neoclassical models of economic behavior – as a social construction. Yet we know very little about how ordinary Americans understand the morality of market behavior; let alone, what leads them to adopt their economic beliefs. We use Relational Class Analysis, a method designed to detect ideational heterogeneity in survey data, to decompose Americans’ economic attitudes into different logics of economic rationality. We find that Americans understand the market through three competing normative prisms, and that gender, religious participation and political ideology explain the adoption of these three logics. Moreover, socialization through education and access to the material rewards afforded by market society predict who exhibits a pro-market orientation, regardless of the logic being employed.
(co-authored with Paul DiMaggio)

Amir Goldberg is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  He received his Ph.D in sociology from Princeton University. Goldberg’s research lies at the intersection of organization studies, cultural sociology and network science. He is interested in understanding how social meanings emerge and solidify through social interaction, and what role network structures play in this process. He uses and develops computationally intensive network-based methods to study how new cultural categories take form as people and organizational actors interact. His work has been published in the American Journal of Sociology.