Cecilia L. Ridgeway is the Lucie Stern Professor of Social Sciences, Emerita, in the Sociology Department at Stanford University. She is particularly interested in the role that social hierarchies in everyday social relations play in the larger processes of stratification and inequality in a society. Much of her research focuses on interpersonal status hierarchies, which are hierarchies of esteem and influence, and the significance of these hierarchies for inequalities based on gender, race, and social class. She served as the President of the American Sociological Association in 2012-13.
She has a new book, titled, Status: Why Is It Everywhere?Why Does It Matter? (Russell Sage Foundation, forthcoming, 11/2019), that offers a broad analysis of the nature of status as a form of inequality and its role in inequality based on social difference groups like gender and race. Other recent projects on status include 1) a theory and experimental tests of how social coordination problems drive the use of status information in making social judgments (“It’s the Conventional Thought that Counts: How Third Order Inference Produces Status Advantage”- American Sociological Review 2017); 2) experimental studies of the processes by which status hierarchies bind low status members to a group ("Is Deference the Price of Being Seen as Reasonable? How Status Hierarchies Incentivize the Acceptance of Low Status" - Social Psychology Quarterly 2017).
The role of interactional processes, including status processes, in preserving gender inequality despite major changes in the socioeconomic organization of society is another ongoing research focus. A book on this topic is Framed By Gender: How Gender Inequality Persists in the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2011). A related paper is: “Intersecting Cultural Beliefs and Social Relations: Gender, Race, and Class Binds and Freedoms” (Gender & Society, 2013). Examples of other publications on social hierarchies, status, and gender inequality include “Framed Before We Know It: How Gender Shapes Social Relations.” (Gender & Society, 2009); “Sociological Approaches to Sex Discrimination” (2007), “Motherhood as a Status Characteristic” (Journal of Social Issues, 2004), “Unpacking the Gender System: A Theoretical Perspective on Cultural Beliefs and Social Relations” (Gender & Society, 2004)“Gender, Status, and Leadership” (Journal of Social Issues, 2001), “Interaction and the Conservation of Gender Inequality” (American Sociological Review, 1997), and Gender, Interaction, and Inequality (Springer-Verlag, 1992).
Recent projects have also included the development and empirical tests of status construction theory, which is a theory about the power of interactional contexts to create and spread status beliefs about social differences. Examples of this work can be found in papers such as “How Easily Do Social Differences Become Status Distinctions? Gender Matters,” (American Sociological Review, 2009), “Consensus and the Emergence of Status Beliefs (Social Forces 2006), “Creating and Spreading Status Beliefs” (American Journal of Sociology, 2000), “How Do Status Beliefs Develop? The Role of Resources and Interaction (American Sociological Review, 1998), and “The Social Construction of Status Value: Gender and Other Nominal Characteristics” (Social Forces, 1991).
Journal Articles & Book Chapters