Sociologists have argued that in contemporary society public attention to celebrities is generally short-lived. Fame would thus escape the classic forces that generate stable hierarchies in traditional stratification systems such as social structure and cumulative advantage. We investigate the tenability of this theory in a unique data source containing daily records of references to person names in 2,500 English-language newspapers and blogs. Mobility turns out to be minimal at all but the lowest strata. While the bottom of the public attention hierarchy exhibits fast turnover, at middle and upper tiers people receive stable coverage that persists around a fixed level and rank for many years. This pattern of “lock-in” characterizes stratification even in the domain of entertainment, in celebrity-oriented tabloids and on blogs, where fame is thought to be most fleeting. Joint work with Charles Ward (SUNY SB), Steven Skiena (SUNY SB) and Eran Shor (McGill)
Bio: Arnout van de Rijt earned an M.Sc. in Sociology from Utrecht University under supervision of Vincent Buskens and his Ph.D at Cornell in 2007, working with Michael Macy. He joined the Sociology Department at SUNY Stony Brook in August of 2007. In 2010 he received the Linton C. Freeman Distinguished Young Scholar Award from the International Network for Social Network Analysis.