Rossi Lecture Series | Dr. Mario Small | Understanding Personal Networks: The Limits of Big Data and the Perils of Common Sense

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 11:30am

UMass Amherst | Campus Center, Hadley Room

Mario Small | Rossi Lecture Series | UMass Amherst Sociology

Rossi Lecture Series | Understanding Personal Networks: The Limits of Big Data and the Perils of Common Sense

When people seek emotional support, how do they decide whom to talk to? Network analysis and common sense would both suggest that people will go to those they are closest to or their strong ties. Based on in-depth interviews with graduate students in one university and nationally representative survey data on adults 18 and older, this talk, based on Small's new book, Someone To Talk To, finds reason to question that belief. Shifting from what people say to what they actually do, Small shows that widely-agreed upon assumptions about the nature of strong ties do not stand up to qualitative empirical scrutiny and do not accord with how people in their ordinary lives interact with those they are close to. The findings will suggest that, in big data era, qualitative research has become more, not less important to social science.

Dr. Mario Small is the Grafstein Family Professor and professor of sociology at Harvard University. He is the author of award-winning books such as Someone To Talk To and articles on networks, poverty, organizations, culture, methods, neighborhoods, and institutions.

Light lunch provided. Free and open to the public.

Rossi Lecture Series

Since 2007, the department has sponsored and hosted the annual Alice S. and Peter H. Rossi Lecture Series. The guest lecturers are prominent academic and public figures drawn from across the country—and indeed the world.