top of page
Mario Small.jpg

Tara García Mathewson

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., is Quetelet Professor of Social Science at Columbia University. A University of Bremen Excellence Chair, and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the Sociological Research Association, Small has published award-winning articles and books on urban inequality, personal networks, and the relationship between qualitative and quantitative methods. His books include Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston BarrioUnanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life -- both of which received the C. Wright Mills Award for Best Book -- and Someone To Talk To: How Networks Matter in Practice, which received the James Coleman Best Book Award among other honors. His most recent books are the co-edited, Personal Networks: Classic Readings and New Directions in Egocentric Analysis, whose 50 contributors provide a compendium of person-centered social network research, and the co-authored Qualitative Literacy: A Guide to Evaluating Ethnographic and Interview Research, which provides strategies for assessing qualitative research from an empirical perspective. Small is currently studying the relationship between networks and decision-making, the ability of large-scale data to answer critical questions about urban inequality, and the relation between qualitative and quantitative methods. CV

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., an expert on personal networks, social inequality, urban poverty, and field methods, is Quetelet Professor of Social Science at Columbia University. A University of Bremen Excellence Chair, and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the Sociological Research Association, Small has contributed empirically creative, innovative works to research on how social, neighborhood, and organizational contexts affect people's ability to meet their needs. 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. His recent book examines why people are consistently willing to confide their deepest worries to people they are not close to, and proposes an approach to network analysis that begins with what people do in practice. His latest volume, at 750 pages with 50 contributors, is a definitive guide to person-centered research on social networks.

Small, the only two-time recipient of the C. Wright Mills Best Book Award, has received numerous awards his works, 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 others. His articles have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Nature Human BehaviourAmerican Journal of Sociology, Journal of Economic PerspectivesTheory and Society, Social Networks, Annual Review of Sociology, Sociological Methods and Research, and Social Forces, among other journals. His work has been featured by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Public Radio International, Quartz, the Huffington Post, Pacific 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 American Sociological Association, and chaired the ASA’s report on the 2010 National Research Council Assessment of Doctoral Programs.

Small has made extensive service contributions. At the University of Chicago, as Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences, he spearheaded initiatives that increased support for students, generated new 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, and a board member of the Spencer Foundation. At Harvard University, he chaired the Provost's university-wide task force on student mental health. He is currently on the board of the Russell Sage Foundation and of the International Network for Social Network Analysis. Small has advised practitioners and policy makers in the private sector, in the administrations of several major cities, and in the U.S. Congress; served as expert panelist to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services); and testified on social capital and inequality before the U.S. Senate.

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. He currently lives in New York with his wife and two children.

bottom of page