The Center for Culture, Organizations and Politics is affiliated with the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. The Center sponsors research about how social arrangements evolve to organize new social spaces. The area of inquiry has been labelled "new institutional theories." Culture, Organizations, and Politics are viewed as the three main categories to push these theoretical and empirical discussions forward. The Center provides funds for graduate student research, sponsors conferences, and supports an ongoing seminar where work in progress is presented and discussed.
Neil Fligstein, Director
University of California, Berkeley
Center for Culture, Organizations and Politics
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
2521 Channing Way, #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720-5555
The Transmission and Persistence of`'Urban Legends': Sociological Application of Age-Structured Epidemic Models
This paper describes two related epidemic models of rumor transmission in an age-structured population. Rumors share with communicable disease certain basic aspects, which means that formal models of epidemics may be applied to the transmission of rumors. The results show that rumors may become entrenched very quickly and persist for a long time, even when skeptics are modeled to take an active role in trying to convince others that the rumor is false. This is a macrophenomeon, because individuals eventually cease to believe the rumor, but are replaced by new recruits. This replacement of former believers by new ones is an aspect of all the models, but the approach to stability is quicker, and involves smaller chance of extinction, in the model where skeptics actively try to counter the rumor, as opposed to the model where interest is naturally lost by believers. Skeptics hurt their own cause. The result shows that including age, or a variable for which age is a proxy (e.g. experience), can improve model _delity and yield important insights.
Economic globalization refers to three related processes: 1) the growth in the world economy, 2) the change in the relations between first and third world countries that has resulted from the use of information technologies to reorganize production nationally and globally, and 3) the integration of world financial markets. These processes are often held responsible for deindustrialization in advanced industrial societies, increases in income inequality, and pressures on welfare states to transform worker protection and benefits. I demonstrate that the changes in the world economy are much smaller, more gradual, and unevenly spread across societies than the globalization thesis suggests. More importantly, the links between globalization and its alleged negative outcomes are tenuous at best. The Paper then explores what is generating the crises, particularly in Europe.