About

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Short bio

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., Grafstein Family Professor at Harvard University, is the author of award-winning books and articles on networks, poverty, organizations, culture, methods, neighborhoods, institutions, and other topics.  He is currently using large-scale administrative data to understand isolation in cities, studying how people use their networks to meet their needs, and exploring the epistemological foundations of qualitative research.  His latest book 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

Long bio

Mario L. Small has made numerous contributions to research on urban neighborhoods, personal networks, qualitative and mixed methods, and many other topics.  He has shown that poor neighborhoods in commonly-studied cities such as Chicago are not representative of ghettos everywhere, that how people conceive of their neighborhood shapes how its conditions affect them, and that local organizations in poor neighborhoods often broker connections to both people and organizations.  Small has demonstrated that people's social capital—including how many people they know and how much they trust others—depends on the organizations in which they are embedded.  His work on methods has shown that many practices used to make qualitative research more scientific are ineffective.  Small's most recent book examines why people are consistently willing to confide their deepest worries to people they are not close to.  

Small, the only two-time recipient of the C. Wright Mills Best Book Award, has received numerous awards for each of his books, including the Robert Park Best Book Award, the James Coleman Best Book Award, a PROSE Award Honorable Mention in Sociology and Anthropology, a Choice Outstanding Academic Title designation, and many others.  His articles have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, American Journal of Sociology, Theory and SocietySocial Networks, Annual Review of Sociology, Social Forces, and Social Science Research, among other journals; his work has been featured by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Public Radio International, the Huffington PostPacific Standard, Greater Good, the Chronicle Review, Commonwealth, and Spotlight on Poverty, among other outlets.

Small has served as Associate Editor of the American Journal of Sociology, Advisory Editor of Social Problems and Sociological Quarterly, Editorial Committee Member of the Annual Review of Sociology, and Editorial Board Member of Social Psychology Quarterly and Sociological Forum.  He is currently Deputy Editor of Sociological Science and Editorial Board Member of Social Science Quarterly.  He has served as Council Member of the Community and Urban Sociology Section and of the Section on Sociological Practice and Public Sociology of the American Sociological Association, and Council Member of the ASA itself.  He Chaired the ASA’s Ad-hoc Committee on the 2010 NRC Rankings, which produced the important Report to the American Sociological Association Regarding the 2010 National Research Council Assessment of Doctoral Programs

At the University of Chicago, as Chair of the Department of Sociology and later Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences, Small spearheaded initiatives that increased support for students, generated resources for faculty research, seeded programs in urban and in computational social science, empirically assessed the institutional climate for students and for faculty of all backgrounds, and substantially expanded the Division's reserves.  He has been a trustee of the National Opinion Research Center and the University of Chicago Charter School.  He is currently a Board Member of the Spencer Foundation and of the Russell Sage Foundation, and an Elected Member of the Sociological Research Association. 

Born and raised in Cerro Viento, PTY, Small received a B.A. in 1996 from Carleton College, and an M.A. in 1998 and a Ph.D. in 2001 from Harvard University.