This article compares the career trajectories and mobility patterns of Nobel Laureates in economics with those of highly cited sociologists to evaluate a theory advanced by Richard Whitley that postulates a nexus between the overall intellectual structure of a discipline and the composition of its elite. The theory predicts that the most eminent scholars in internally fragmented disciplines such as sociology will vary in their departmental affiliations and academic career paths, while disciplines such as economics with strong linkages between specialties and shared standards of excellence will be dominated by a more homogeneous elite. The comparison provides strong empirical evidence in favor of Whitley’s theory. The careers of the most eminent economists are closely tied to the top five departments of the discipline, whereas the career pathways to eminence in sociology are largely unpredictable. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s11024-020-09399-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.