The Sociology of Elite Advisors

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation uses elite professional advisors as a case study to explore the relationship between social stratification and knowledge production. In the first essay, I use a novel dataset of articles written by management consultants at the three most prestigious firms to measure the relationship between education, seniority, and innovativeness. I find that while those with elite educations and seniority are the least innovative of the authors, they are also the most likely to write about “disruptive innovation.” In the second essay, I explore what it means to “think like a consultant.‘” Relying on a close reading of articles and books written by consultants, interviews with management consultants, and participant-observation at recruiting events, I find a contradiction between the “front stage” presentation of the work of consultants, and the “back stage” beliefs about how a consultant ought to think. In particular I find that, rather than creativity, firms hire for, and value, simplicity. In the third essay, I consider the question of the relationship between occupational stratification and political thought. Using data from the General Social Survey, and multi-model, automated selection approach, I find that to the extent a significant political gap between the occupational groups exists, it is only among non-Black men. While both managers and professionals have grown more left-leaning in the last decade, these occupational groups have also grown more politically heterogeneous.


Attribute NameValues
Author Dustin S. Stoltz
Contributor Terence McDonnell, Committee Member
Contributor Erin Metz McDonnell, Research Director
Contributor Omar Lizardo, Research Director
Contributor Tamara Kay, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Banner Code

Defense Date
  • 2020-02-21

Submission Date 2020-03-09
  • Computational Text Analysis

  • Elites

  • Cognition

  • Knowledge

  • Professions

  • Culture

  • Textual Spanning

  • Sociology

  • Organizations

  • Concept Mover’s Distance

  • Consultants

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
Departments and Units
Catalog Record

Digital Object Identifier


This DOI is the best way to cite this doctoral dissertation.


Please Note: You may encounter a delay before a download begins. Large or infrequently accessed files can take several minutes to retrieve from our archival storage system.