The American Sociologist

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 488–508 | Cite as

Academic Familism, Spillover Prestige and Gender Segregation in Sociology Subfields: The Trajectory of Economic Sociology

  • Nina BandeljEmail author


Sociology is a multiparadigmatic discipline, increasingly feminized, but in some of the discipline’s subfields certain theoretical tools and methods dominate over others, and gender integration is stalled. Why so? I examine the intellectual trajectory of the new economic sociology to highlight the role of academic familism, disciplinary spillover prestige, and gender for privileging the networks perspective, over other intellectual currents, in the early developments of the subfield. First, academic familism in a form of cross generational mentor-mentee relationships reinforced networks-based research among early champions of the new economic sociology, such as Harrison White and Mark Granovetter and their students. Second, the network perspective thrived on spillover prestige from natural sciences, which also embraced the study of networks, as well as from economics. Third, alignment with methodological and gender hierarchies in the discipline of sociology privileged the quantitative male-led network analyses over other approaches, such as cultural or inequality analysis. Providing an interpretation of the history of economic sociology, this article also reveals the mechanisms that stall gender integration within sociological subfields despite broader trends in feminization of our discipline.


Economic sociology Intellectual history Networks Gender Prestige Cultural analysis 



I would like to thank organizers and participants at the session on Feminist Perspectives in Sociological Subfields at the 2016 American Sociological Association (ASA) meetings, and at the History of Sociology session at the 2017 ASA Meetings, especially Orit Avishai, Christine Williams, Erin Leahy, Sharon Koppman, as well as Viviana Zelizer for extensive discussions. Elizabeth Sowers and Celeste Villarreal provided excellent research assistance. I am grateful to Editor Lawrence Nichols for energetic engagement with the ideas and valuable suggestions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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