The Matthew Effect: How Advantage Begets Further Advantage by Daniel RigneyThe Matthew Effect: How Advantage Begets Further Advantage by Daniel Rigney

The Matthew Effect: How Advantage Begets Further Advantage

byDaniel Rigney

Hardcover | February 23, 2010

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The old saying does often seem to hold true: the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, creating a widening gap between those who have more and those who have less. The sociologist Robert K. Merton called this phenomenon the Matthew effect, named after a passage in the gospel of Matthew. Yet the more closely we examine the sociological effects of this principle, the more complicated the idea becomes. Initial advantage doesn't always lead to further advantage, and disadvantage doesn't necessarily translate into failure. Does this theory need to be revisited?

Merton's arguments have significant implications for our conceptions of equality and justice, and they challenge our beliefs about culture, education, and public policy. His hypothesis has been examined across a variety of social arenas, including science, technology, politics, and schooling, to see if, in fact, advantage begets further advantage. Daniel Rigney is the first to evaluate Merton's theory of cumulative advantage extensively, considering both the conditions that uphold the Matthew effect and the circumstances that cause it to fail. He explores whether growing inequality is beyond human control or disparity is socially constructed and subject to change. Reexamining our core assumptions about society, Rigney causes us to rethink the sources of inequity.

Daniel Rigney, a sociologist at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, was director of the university's honors program for twenty-three years. With an interest in social theory, the sociology of religion and culture, and social justice issues, he is the author of The Metaphorical Society: An Invitation to Social Theory and is married t...
Title:The Matthew Effect: How Advantage Begets Further AdvantageFormat:HardcoverDimensions:176 pagesPublished:February 23, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231149484

ISBN - 13:9780231149488

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Table of Contents

1. What Is the Matthew Effect?2. Matthew Effects in Science and Technology3. Matthew Effects in the Economy4. Matthew Effects in Politics and Public Policy5. Matthew Effects in Education and Culture6. Implications and ConclusionsAppendix: Trends in Economic InequalityNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

[A] cogent book.