a sociology of Steve Jobs

Hosted over on my own blog, mostly because it’s a little long, here’s A Sociology of Steve Jobs.

Written by Kieran

October 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm

4 Responses

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  1. […] A Sociology of Steve Jobs – […]


  2. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if Podolny were actually able to institutionalize design/technology creativity? Now that would be a great moment in social science.



    October 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm

  3. I just came from the monthly Macintosh User Group Meeting here in Austin. Perhaps not every Macintosh user is bound by religious ties to Apple and Jobs. In addition to the Stanford Commencement Address, we watched two tributes and then listened as half a dozen people came down to the altar to witness for the affect Steve Jobs had on their lives.

    Charisma, like entrepreneurship, is going to be sought and argued by sociologists because, ultimately, it is the ineffable quality of an individual. Maybe you can learn charisma; but it cannot be taught at university. And neither can entrepreneurship. Different as they were, Hiram Ulysses Grant and George Armstrong Custer both ranked at the bottom of their classes at West Point Both excelled as leaders. You can learn it; you cannot teach it.

    But we can teach organizational behavior and organization theory. Kieran Healy asked (rhetorically) if the CEOs of Exxon Mobil or Nestle will be honored the same way: “Apple’s storefronts became impromptu shrines and memorials, something we can safely say will not happen at gas stations or supermarkets when the CEOs of Exxon Mobil or Nestlé pass on.” Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and a few others of that generation stand out, as do a few from every generation.

    A couple of ice ages ago, we were lucky to have one person like that every three or four generations. Now with 6 billion of us, we lesser mortals benefit more frequently from the actions of the blessed and the divine. Tell someone that the universe is not only stranger than we do imagine, but stranger than we can imagine, and they will nod in sage agreement with the deep realization that we are limited in our knowledge. Yet, somehow, we are expected to understand and replicate Steve Jobs. The Marxists thought that a worker’s committee could replace Rockefeller and Ford. We think that grad schools can replicate Jobs or Gates or Soros or Buffett.


    Michael Marotta

    October 12, 2011 at 4:32 am

  4. […] comments: First, Jobs, as Kieran noted, was a charismatic leader. He also had an amazingly deep set of skills, derived from having worked […]


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