Writing for Nautilus, Peter Sheridan Dodds (University of Vermont) describes how the study of networks draws into question the existence of "opinion leaders."
Dodds cites the human tendencies to seek out stories and focus on individuals as factors influencing the persistence of the idea that a select few individuals are largely responsible for the choices of the population at large.
Dodds says of his research on fame:
There is nothing in a mathematical description of spreading fame about the match that sets the fire going—instead, it’s all about how the network connects, and how acceptance of a message spreads along links between people.
Read the essay.