Mario L. Small, Ph.D., Grafstein Family Professor at Harvard University, is the author of numerous award-winning books and articles on urban poverty, support networks, qualitative and mixed methods, and other topics. His latest book, to be published fall 2017, is Someone To Talk To (Oxford). A study of how people decide whom to approach when seeking support, the book is an inquiry into human nature, a critique of network analysis, and a discourse on the role of qualitative research in the big-data era. CV
New book coming fall 2017 Small's Someone To Talk To will be published by Oxford U. Press. A study of how people decide whom to approach when seeking support, the book is an inquiry into human nature, a critique of network analysis, and a discourse on the role of qualitative research in the big-data era.
Congressional testimony on social capital Small testified before the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress on social capital and economic opportunity. Serious investment in early education programs can help build social capital and improve the lives of both children and parents.
Making friends in violent neighborhoods Small's new paper with Anjanette Chan Tack finds that neighborhood violence makes elementary school children in Chicago unusually --- and distressingly --- strategic about friendships. See summary in NY Magazine's Science of Us.
Behavioral economics and social networks Small's new Social Networks paper, "Because They Were There," examines how people decide whom to turn to for support. It documents that people often don't deliberate on the matter, making spontaneous decisions that do not conform to expectations of rationality.
The problem with urban ethnography Small's new City and Community paper, "De-Exoticizing Ghetto Poverty," discusses stereotyping and sensationalism in current research on low-income minority populations. “Violence sells copy, and no ethnographer can feign ignorance of that fact.”
People replace confidants quickly in new contexts Small's new Social Networks paper examines who graduate students trust with important matters over their first year. "The core discussion network changes remarkably quickly... and it appears to do so because the obligations people face and the routine activities they engage in are transformed by new institutional environments." Confidants are fickle.
The problem with the "culture of poverty" The Society Pages publishes roundtable with Small's commentary on the "culture of poverty." The long-debunked culture of poverty model should have been replaced by alternative models of culture and behavior. "The fact that anyone believes that studying culture means rehashing that old idea shows how far we need to go."
Don't think of a ghetto The Chronicle Review publishes Small's "No Two Ghettos Are Alike." Our most prominent picture of what ghettos look like has been built on a special case--an important, historic, and interesting one, but a single case nonetheless. Ghettos in Chicago and New York are remarkably different.