Have you ever wondered why sociological research and insights do not occupy a more prominent place in U.S. policy circles or in the American public consciousness? Sociology’s performance in this regard may reflect the discipline’s efforts to promote (or avoid) approaches like public sociology that actively encourage engagement with the public. Research about U.S. culture and individualism, however, suggests two other reasons sociologists may get a chilly reception when we try to promote our research in the U.S. Read More
The deification of Steve Jobs is a truly remarkable sociological phenomenon. There has been good sociological commentary on this already, including a post by Kieran Healy applying a Weberian analysis of charismatic authority to Jobs and a post by Teppo Felin on the social construction of Steve Jobs (also see a post by Shamus Khan on the Foxconn sweatshops that make Apple products).
What I want to add here is an argument that not only is the exaltation of Jobs explicable as a reaffirmation of the American mythology of individualism and free markets, but, more provocatively, the Jobs-as-Great-Man narrative is wrong in assigning so much responsibly for Apple’s ostensibly-trailblazing products to a single individual. Against both the American mythology and mainstream economics, technological innovation is better conceived as a collective endeavor.