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Nov. 29 | Experimental Design Workshop: Order-Making and the Acceptability of Inequality

  • 501D Knox Hall | Columbia University 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Experimental Design Workshop: Order-Making and the Acceptability of Inequality

WHEN: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Knox Hall 501D, 606 W 122nd Street

The operations we use to evaluate, rank, and select individuals in a field often yield clear-cut quality sortings when in truth quality and merit are multi-dimensional, equivocal, and hard to adjudicate. These operations create order and hierarchy out of ambiguousness, fuzziness, and potential equality. Using experimental vignette designs, I examine how this order-making shapes our willingness to accept inequality in the rewards received by the winners and losers of ranking and selection processes. In particular, I test whether inequality is more acceptable when the multidimensionality of merit is bracketed, or when multiple evaluative devices in a field are in agreement, suggesting the existence of a reliable merit order.

Fabien Accominotti is an assistant professor of sociology at LSE, visiting Incite in 2017-2018. His research focuses on social status and status-based inequality: why people and groups are perceived as more or less valuable, and how this affects their outcomes. He has studied the formation of value beliefs in the art world and the emergence of cultural capital as a status marker in the Gilded Age. His current project uses experimental designs to test how, in organizational settings, various selection procedures shape the willingness of observers to accept inequality in the rewards received by the winners and losers of selection processes. Accominotti’s first book, on consecration and creativity in the market for modern art, will be published by Princeton University Press in 2018. His other work appears in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Behavioral Scientist, Poetics, and Histoire & Mesure. He received his PhD from Columbia in 2015.

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. All are welcome!

Through the Experimental Design Workshop, social scientists at Columbia have the opportunity to workshop the design of an experiment they have not yet fielded. Presenters will receive specific, actionable feedback on that design from other workshop participants. For inquires about the Experimental Design Workshop Series, please contact Maria Abascal (

Funding support for the Networks and Time Seminar Series, including the Experimental Design Workshop Series, is provided by the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, administered by INCITE, which features events and programming that embody and honor Lazarsfeld’s commitment to the improvement of methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.