Arnout van de Rijt

van de Rijt

Associate Professor (joint with IACS)
Ph.D. 2007, Cornell
(631) 632-7704

Areas of Interest

Social networks, cumulative advantage


My research exploits novel data collection opportunities enabled by present-day communication technology to answer longstanding questions about the origins of social order and societal inequality.

My work on social networks seeks to understand complex patterns of social connectedness as the aggregate combination of many individuals following elementary decision rules on whom to connect to and whom to avoid. Examples of such decision rules are “a friend of a friend is a friend”, “reach out to people you wouldn’t normally hang out with”, “avoid being in the minority”, and "cultivate competing ties as to improve your bargaining position" . Agent-based computational models show that the networks that emerge in the aggregate as the result of such purposive action often exhibit undesirable structural features that no individual intended.

In my research on success-breeds-success processes I bestow minor financial and social successes (donations, awards, endorsements) upon random and unsuspecting recipients to reveal how this produces arbitrary inequality by raising their future success expectations vis-a-vis equally talented non-recipients. Results show that these self-reinforcing dynamics have a large distortionary effect on the meritocratic allocation of resources.
For my contributions to social network analysis I received the 2010 Freeman Award for Distinguished Junior Scholarship and several best article awards. My research is supported by the National Science Foundation through award #1340122 and has been published in American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Selected publications

Eran Shor, Arnout van de Rijt, Alex Miltsov, Vivek Kulkarni, and Steven Skiena. "A Paper Ceiling: Explaining the Persistent Underrepresentation of Females in Printed News Coverage."  American Sociological Review, forthcoming.

Arnout van de Rijt, Soong Moon Kang, Michael Restivo and Akshay Patil. "Field Experiments of Success-Breeds-Success Dynamics." Forthcoming in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Press: Economist, Time, Daily News, Daily Mail, National Geographic

Arnout van de Rijt, Eran Shor, Charles Ward and Steven Skiena. "Only Fifteen Minutes? The Social Stratification of Fame in English-Language Media." American Sociological Review 78(2):266-89. Press: LA TimesToronto StarGlobe and Mail Newsday podcast pdf

Michael Restivo and Arnout van de Rijt. 2012. “Experimental Study of Informal Rewards in Peer Production.” PLoS ONE 7(3): e34358. pdf

Arnout van de Rijt. 2011. “The Micro-Macro Link for the Theory of Structural Balance.” Journal of Mathematical Sociology 35(1):94-113. pdf

Arnout van de Rijt, Michael W. Macy, and David Siegel. 2009. "Comment: Neighborhood Chance and Neighborhood Change". American Journal of Sociology 114(4):1166-80. pdf

Vincent Buskens and Arnout van de Rijt. 2008. “Dynamics of Networks if Everyone Strives for Structural Holes.” American Journal of Sociology 114(2):371-407. Discussed on This paper received the 2009 Best Article Award from the European Academy of Sociology and an honorary mention in the 2009 ASA Math. Soc. Best Article competition. Related work with Robb Willer earned the 2004 ASA Math. Soc. Graduate Student Best Paper Award. pdf

Arnout van de Rijt and Michael W. Macy. 2006. "Power and Dependence in Intimate Exchange." Social Forces 84(3):1455-70. pdf

News & Events

  November 2015  
  IHSS will present Nicholas Wilson, Stony Brook Department Sociology, November 18, 1:15 PM - 2:30 PM, SBS N320, “What Do Historical Sociologists Do All Day?  Historical Method in Theory and Practice  
  October 2015  
  September 2015  
  •Sociology Brown Bag Series presents Assistant Professor Jason Jones, Wednesday, September 16, 1:00 - 2:20 PM, SBS N403, "The Paradox of Weak Ties in 55 Countries."
•Sociology Brown Bag Series presents Ph.D. student Cliff Leek, Wednesday, September 2, 1:00 - 2:20 PM, SBS N403, "Men and Masculinities in International Development:  Are Fears Becoming Realities?"
  May 2015  
  Ph.D. student Suzan Walters receives the 2015 Outstanding Student Paper Award in the ASA section, Disability and Society, for her paper, "Caregiving and HIV:  Accounts of Resisting Individualism, Privatization, and Cuts in Social Spending."
Jennifer Heerwig and Josh Murray (Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt and SBU Sociology alumni) awarded $33,000 grant by the Russell Sage Foundation to support their project entitled "Partisanship, Unity, and Inter-Corporate Networks:  Political Donations of the Corporate Elite, 1980 - 2014."
  April 2015  
  Sociology Brown Bag series presents Professor Ian Roxborough, Wednesday, April 22, 1:00 - 2:20 PM, SBS N403, "Human Aspects of Military Operations: Intra-Organizational Debate and Spontaneous Sociology."
IHSS will present Miriam L. Kingsberg, University of Colorado; ACLS Ryskamp Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, April 15, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, “Fieldwork, Ethnology, and Empire: the Making of Japan's ‘Transwar Generation’ of Social Scientists” - Co-sponsored by the History Department
Sociology Brown Bag series presents Associate Professor Timothy P. Moran and Ph.D. student Sofia Boutillier, Wednesday, April 8, 1:00 - 2:20 PM, SBS N403, "Saying Happiness While Doing Inequality:  Wealth, Neoliberalism, and the New York Times."
  March 2015  
  Philip Kasinitz, Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of CUNY, March 25, 2015, 1:00 PM, SBS N403, "Immigration, Diversity and Citizenship:  The Changing Terrain of Racial Justice."
Nancy Foner, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of CUNY, March 12, 2015, 4:00 PM, SBS N403, "Immigration and the Remaking of New York."
IHSS will present Shobana Shankar, Stony Brook Department of History, March 11, 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM, SBS N320, “Curbing Religious Freedoms for State Security: The Old Cities of Northern Nigeria in the Era."
of Decolonization” - Co-sponsored by the Africana Studies Department
  February 2015  
  Sociology Brown Bag series presents Ph.D. student Carolyn Coburn, Wednesday, February 18, 1:00 - 2:20 PM, SBS N403, "Water, Sanitation, and Female Secondary School Enrollment:  A Cross-National Analysis of Sub-Saharan African Nations."  
  IHSS will present Paul Gootenberg, Stony Brook Department of History & Sociology, February 18, 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM, SBS N320, “From Teonanácatl to Miami Vice: Latin America’s Contribution to World Drug Culture” - Co-sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center  
  Sociology Brown Bag series presents Assistant Professor Kristen Shorette, Wednesday, February 4, 1:00 - 2:20 PM, SBS N403, "Global Institutions and the Persistence of Cross-National Health Disparities across the Global South."  
  December 2014  
  Florencia Arancibia has been awarded a two-year post-doctoral fellowship with the Argentine National Scientific and Technical Research Council for her research project, "Social movements and knowledge intermediaries: participatory methods for inclusive innovation."  
  October 2014
  IHSS will present Rick DesRochers, Long Island University-Post Campus, Department of Theatre, October 14, 2:30 PM, SBS N403, "The Family Act Goes to School - The Marx Brothers, Vaudeville, and Americanization."  
  September 2014  
  Michael Kimmel and Gloria Steinem co-author New York Times opinion piece on consensual sex on college campuses entitled "Yes Is Better Than No."
Kristen Shorette receives ASA Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Award for her project, "Freedom from Discrimination as Human Right?  The Global Human Rights Regime and the Diffusion of Affirmative Action since 1965"
Carrie Shandra selected as a Fellow of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research's Switzer Research Program
Nicholas Wilson, Yale University, September 29, 2014, 1:00 PM, SBS N403, "Corruption and the Making of Modern Bureaucracy:  Evidence from the British Empire in India."
IHSS will present Steven Skiena, Stony Brook University, Department of Computer Science, September 18, 2:30 PM, SBS N403, "Who's Bigger?  Where Historical Figures Really Rank.

Department of Sociology,  Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4356, tel.: +1 (631) 632-7700

Login to Edit