Micro-Level Production of Durable Inequality -- A Status Diffusion Approach
Tilly (1998) theorized that persistent inequality between social categories emerge when categorical distinctions are mapped onto organizational hierarchies (e.g., male manager versus female Assistant). Routine practices from the organizational role hierarchies make categorical distinctions hard to replace. Previous research has yet to thoroughly delineate the mechanism. The current study, drawing from status diffusion theories (Berger and Fişek 2006; Ridgeway 1991), propose and test a status process that makes categorical inequality endure. Using a modified status construction experiment (Ridgeway et al. 1998), I systematically examine whether role hierarchies are sufficient in making arbitrary categorical distinctions differentiated in perceived status and competence. Results show that the categorical membership consistently associated with a superior role was widely perceived as having higher status. Yet, participants did not develop stereotypes differentiating the two group in competence. The study also shows that different exposures to the role hierarchy affect status diffusion. Future implications and limitations are discussed.
ASA Social Psychology Graduate Student Investigator Award (honorable mention)
2023 60th Midwest Sociological Society Graduate Student Paper Competition Award (First Place)
Currently under review at Social Psychology Quarterly