I received my PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto, during which time I spent a year at the Harvard Kennedy School while on a predoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Digital Government. After completing my PhD I spent two years working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Social Psychology at The University of Tokyo. I then spent three and a half years in the Department of Communication at Rutgers University before coming to Ryerson.
My research focuses on the relationship between communication technology and social networks. I am interested in how commonly used communication media such as email, mobile phones, and landline telephones are used in tandem with in-person contact to maintain personal networks. I am particularly concerned with how this process shows that communication technology affords – rather than determines – social action.
I have collaborated on research projects in Canada, America, and Japan.
While working on my PhD in Canada I was involved in NetLab’s Connected Lives Project at the University of Toronto. Using a combination of in-depth interviews and a random sample survey we investigated interrelationships of personal networks, household relations, community involvement and media use (Internet, phone, in-person). I have also consulted for the Privy Council Office of Canada and developed survey measures used in the Canadian General Social Survey.
During my postdoctoral fellowship in Japan I worked with Kakuko Miyata to study the use of mobile phone email among adults, Tetsuro Kobayashi to study the use of mobile phone email among adolescents, and Ken’ichi Ikeda to compare the composition of core networks in Japan and America using nationally representative data. Dr. Ikeda and I also examined the implications of core networks for political participation in Japan.
For my research in America I co-directed a national survey of 2,200 adults with Barry Wellman and the Pew Internet & American Life Project which focused on how email is used to maintain large networks of voluntary ties and leverage social support. The data collected from this survey was used to write my doctoral dissertation and The Strength of Internet Ties, a report which has been downloaded from the Pew Internet & American Life’s website more than 30,000 times since its release in 2006, cited in the American Sociological Review and other scholarly journals, and discussed widely in the popular press.