Keith N. Hampton is the Endowed Professor in Communication and Public Policy and Co-Chair of the Social Media & Society Cluster in the School of Communication and Information, he is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, and an affiliate member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Sociology at Rutgers University. Hampton received his Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from the University of Toronto. Before joining the faculty at Rutgers, he was an assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, and Assistant Professor of Technology, Urban and Community Sociology & Class of '43 Chair in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests focus on the relationship between new information and communication technologies, social networks, democratic engagement, and the urban environment.

Recent and ongoing projects include:

Pervasive Awareness - This study explores possible outcomes associated with the pervasive nature of social media. Based on a national, representative telephone survey of adults, this study suggests that pervasive exposure to information from people’s personal network of friends and family, combined with the anytime-anywhere accessibility of social ties, is likely to affect outcomes related to stress, social isolation, the provision of social support, exposure to diverse points of view, and willingness to voice opinions.

Social Interaction in Public Spaces: A Longitudinal Study - The goal of this study is to understand change in the social life of urban public spaces over the past 30 years. Utilizing an archive of Super 8 time-lapse films of public spaces from New York and around the world that were made in the 1970s by William H. Whyte and the Project for Public Spaces, public interactions are compared to videos of the same spaces captured from 2008-10. The focus is on change in the tendency for people to be alone, and in the composition of groups, as a result of large scale social changes, such as the mobile phone.

Changes to Helping Behavior: A Lost-letter Experiment - A variation on Stanley Milgram's lost-letter technique. In the summer of 2001 more than 5,000 stamped and self-addressed letters were "lost" in 80+ urban areas in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia. The proportion of returned letters from each area is an indicator of helping behavior. In the summer of 2011 the project entered its second phase; letters were "lost" again in the same small urban areas. Census data is being used to predict change in helping behavior over the past decade based on changes in the composition of different urban settings, such as population mobility and diversity.

i-Neighbors.org - A free, public resource at www.i-neighbors.org where people can find their geographic neighborhoods online and form corresponding digital communities. The i-Neighbors project investigates in detail the specific contexts where Internet use affords local interactions and facilitates community involvement. i-Neighbors supports over 8,000 neighborhoods in the US and Canada and delivers over one million messages to neighbors each month. This project was an outcome of prior work on the E-Neighbors and Netville studies.

Social Media and Social Well-being? - This study combined a longitudinal nationally representative telephone survey with transaction data on the use of Facebook. The project explored the relationship between the use/nonuse of social network services and other information and communication technologies, and the structure and size of people's social networks, health, tolerance, social capital, and other measures of well-being.

The Social Life of Wireless Urban Spaces - It is unclear if wireless Internet use in public spaces will facilitate greater engagement with co-present others, or encourage social disengagement. This study investigated how mobile technologies, focusing on Wi-Fi use but not excluding mobile phones, video games, portable music devices, etc., impact the use of public space. Updating William H. Whyte's classic study of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, this project is based on observations of seven wireless Internet enabled public parks, plazas and markets in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto. The goal was to identify how mobile devices augment local interactions and people's social networks more broadly.

Social Isolation and New Technology: The Personal Networks and Community Survey - This national, representative telephone survey of adults explored the relationship between use of new technologies and social isolation, the size of core networks, participation in neighborhoods, voluntary groups, public spaces, and the diversity of people's social networks. Key findings challenge previous research and fears about the harmful social impact of new technologies, such as social media and mobile phones.

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special issue: Communication in City and Community: From the Chicago School to Digital Technology

The special issue of American Behavioral Scientist edited by myself and Vikki Katz is now in print. Vikki and I put together this issue based on a workshop we organized during the 2014 meeting of the National Communication Association. We bring together a great set of authors who intersect in the areas of community, digital media, and urban studies. The issue is relevant for anyone studying new media, virtual community, social networks, urban sociology, urban planning, or community and urban informatics. In our introduction to the issue we argue that:


The split between sociology and communication has had consequences for scholars in both fields. As these traditions moved further from each other, sociologists concerned with local ecologies, place, and “neighborhood effects” have generally neglected the role of media and variation in access to communication technology. Researchers who have focused on media, information, and communication processes have neglected the role of place and have decoupled communication technologies from the contexts in which people use them. This schism has inhibited the advancement of a common interest to understand the factors that influence social integration. This special issue of American Behavioral Scientist intends to bridge the gap between research by scholars in sociology and those in communication, information, and media studies about the role of new technologies in everyday life.


Contributions include:


Karin Wahl-Jorgensen
The Chicago School and Ecology: A Reappraisal for the Digital Era


Lewis A. Friedland
Networks in Place


Jeffrey Lane
The Digital Street: An Ethnographic Study of Networked Street Life in Harlem


Vikki S. Katz and Carmen Gonzalez
Community Variations in Low-Income Latino Families’ Technology Adoption and Integration


Yong-Chan Kim and Eui-Kyung Shin
Localized Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Seoul’s Urban Neighborhoods


Keith N. Hampton
Persistent and Pervasive Community: New Communication Technologies and the Future of Community


You can find the full issue here.

Tue Jan 12, 2016 @ 11:38:02 am

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