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Mario Small

Quetelet Professor of Social Science at Columbia University

who will speak on

Why Big Data Science Will Need Qualitative Research:
A Case on Racial Inequality in Financial Access

followed by a response from

Sandra Susan Smith

Daniel & Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice, Harvard Kennedy School
Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy


Friday, September 23, 2022
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Eastern

About the Lecture 
The data revolution in social science has inspired researchers to use massive, newly available datasets from private and public sources to understand social phenomena. The trend may suggest to some that small-scale qualitative networks will eventually become obsolete. Dr. Mario Small, Quetelet Professor of Social Science at Columbia University, argues, however, that the data revolution has made qualitative research more essential, in order to ensure that “big data” result in real science. In this lecture, Professor Small will illustrate this point, based on a study using Google Maps data and running more than 6 million queries, in order to understand racial inequality in access to financial services across US cities. The study makes clear, as noted in this article, that fully unlocking the potential of large-scale data will require qualitative methods. The SSRC Katznelson Fellowship is part of the SSRC Fellow Initiative, which invites distinguished scholars to the Council to share their work. About Mario Small

Mario L. Small, PhD., 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 Barrio, Unanticipated 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 edited book, Personal Networks: Classic Readings and New Directions in Egocentric Analysis, with 50 contributors, is a comprehensive guide to person-centered social network analysis. 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.