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The Speed Imperative in the Attainment of Community Status

By Daniel Stewart


If stable status orders emerge within social realms such as the market or community, then it is important for an actor that wishes to establish high status to do so quickly. Social forces immediately begin to work together to establish an actor’s position in the community’s social structure. However, as tenure increases and an actor’s status becomes increasingly taken-forgranted, it becomes difficult for community members to generate mobility outside of their current social strata. Therefore, members of a community who desire high status should work quickly to establish a positive reputation or else run the risk of being cast into an inert low status social position. This paper tests this conjecture within the context of a community of software programmers. The results run counter to the popular notion that an individual, in the functionalist tradition, can proactively self-manage her own career mobility. Rather, the results lie closer to the sociological and structuralist traditions, which suggest that it is the broader community which plays a major role in deciding one’s social position—a judgment that can be made fairly quickly and decisively, in this case. 1 Status Inertia

Year: 2011
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