Princeton University Shield

Paul DiMaggio

Department of Sociology
118 Wallace Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544

How Do Noneconomic Factors Shape Social Inequality?

I have studied the impact of “cultural capital” -- familiar and comfortable relationships to prestigious forms of culture – on educational attainment, and found that high-school students high on this dimension more often graduate from college and marry better educated spouses than otherwise similar peers. I have also studied how people use social networks for significant purchases: homes, cars, legal assistance and home repairs. The market turns out to be far from impersonal: many Americans know their transaction partners personally, and those who do are more satisfied than others with the outcome. Now I am studying the impact of social class on use of new digital technologies and the connection between Internet use and income. High-status people more easily gain access to new technologies, and they employ them to reinforce their economic advantage. Yet all is not grim: working-class young men who are high in cultural capital are more likely to move into the middle class; the well-educated and prosperous have no lock on the social networks that lubricate market exchange; and young people have used their command of new technologies to move ahead more swiftly in the workplace. My research has helped me better understand both the tenacity of social distinction and the permeability of the class structure.

Selected Publications: 

2001. The Twenty-First Century Firm: Changing Economic Organization in International Perspective (Editor). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Reprinted in paperback edition by Princeton University Press, 2003.

2004. “From Unequal Access to Differentiated Use: A Literature Review and Agenda for Research on Digital Inequality. With Eszter Hargittai, Coral Celeste, and Steven Shafer. In Social Inequality, edited by Kathryn Neckerman. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

2003. Social Division in the United States: The Disparity Between Private Opinion and Public Politics. Fractious America: Divisions of Race, Culture and Politics at the Millenium, edited by Jonathan Rieder. Berkeley: University of California Press.

1998. Socially Embedded Consumer Transactions: For What Kinds of Purchases do People Use Networks Most? (With Hugh Louch.) American Sociological Review (October): 619-37.

1997. Culture and Cognition. Annual Review of Sociology 23: 263-87. Winner of 2001 Best Article prize from the American Sociological Association Theory Section.