Mario L. Small

Columbia University


Primary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2022)

Biosketch

Mario L. Small, a sociologist by training, is Quetelet Professor of Social Science at Columbia University. He is known for his research on the consequences of neighborhood poverty, on the role of routine organizations in people's social networks, and on the value and limits of qualitative research in the production of cumulative science. His recent books include Someone To Talk To: How Networks Matter in Practice, Personal Networks: Classic Readings and New Directions in Egocentric Analysis, and Qualitative Literacy: A Guide to Evaluating Ethnographic and Interview Research. Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, he immigrated to the U.S. at 17 as a permanent resident and later became a U.S. citizen. A 1996 sociology and anthropology graduate of Carleton College, he studied sociology at Harvard?s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, obtaining an M.A. in 1998 and a Ph.D. in 2001. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences.

Research Interests

Mario L. Small's research has centered on three topics. His research on social inequality has examined how living in low-income neighborhoods affects people's well-being. He has found that how neighborhoods matter depends, among other things, on the conditions of their local organizations, on how people living in the neighborhoods conceive of them, and on where-which city-the neighborhoods are located. His research on social networks has examined how people turn to those around them to meet their needs. He has uncovered that people are more likely to trust someone they are not close to with personal matters than they tend to believe about themselves. And he has found that people's social capital-not only how many contacts they have but also how much they trust others-depends on the everyday organizations in which they are embedded. His research on social science methods has examined the relationship between quantitative and qualitative analysis. He has shown that many practices used to improve the scientific grounding of qualitative research are ineffective, proposed better ways of evaluating such studies, and sought to improve researchers' and others' ability to distinguish strong from weak qualitative evidence.

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