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Arnout van de Rijt is Professor of Sociology and Designated Chair for the UU strategic
theme Institutions for Open Societies. Van de Rijt leads the research line Computational
Sociology at the Department of Sociology. Van de Rijt received a Ph.D. in Sociology
from Cornell University in 2007 and has since then worked as Assistant and Associate
Professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University in the USA, where he co-led the Center
for Computational Social Science. Van de Rijt’s current research focuses on inequality,
and in particular the role of rich-get-richer dynamics driving inequality growth.
His research seeks answers to questions relating to meritocracy such as under what
conditions small, random differences in early success between people can with time,
through positive feedback, grow into large gaps between the successful and unsuccessful;
or under what conditions a person or thing can dominate a qualitatively superior alternative
in popularity. Van de Rijt has also done work on social network analysis, in which
he has studied the generative mechanisms behind typical features of social networks
such as friendship clusters, segregation by race and gender, and large variation across
people in the number of friends they have.