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Keith Hampton
Assistant Professor of Technology, Urban and Community Sociology
Department of Urban Studies & Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

77 Massachusetts Ave
Building 9-522
Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA
Phone: 617-253-1591


  • Social Networks
  • Community
  • Computer Mediated Communication
  • Public Space
    Keith N. Hampton is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Saguaro Seminar, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is Assistant Professor of Technology, Urban and Community Sociology and holds the Class of ''43 Career Development Professorship in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. Recent projects include "E-neighbors," a longitudinal study of how new information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to build social capital in a neighborhood setting; "Netville," an ethnographic and survey-based study of how living in a highly wired broadband suburban neighborhood affects individual, community and family life; and "Network Awareness," a multi year experiment testing the impact of wireless devices and position-aware technologies on community participation, serendipity and the structure of social networks;. The focus of Hampton’s work is on advancing the understanding of how ICTs influences the structure of people’s communities and social networks. In particular, Hampton’s work explores the potential for ICTs to afford local, place based interactions.


    Social Networks
    Description: Grad level course, intro to social networks and computer networks as social networks


    "Grieving For a Lost Network: Collective Action in a Wired Suburb." by Keith Hampton, published by The Information Society (Dec 2003). Link to Publication

    Critics have argued that information and communication technologies (ICTs) disconnect people from their social networks and reduce public participation. Research in support of this perspective has been biased by two assumptions. The first is a tendency to privilege the Internet as a social system removed from the other ways people communicate. The second is a tendency to favor broadly supportive strong social ties. Survey and ethnographic observations from Netville, a two-year community networking experiment, suggest that weak, not strong ties, experience growth as a result of ICTs. By examining a unique and under explored stage in the lifecycle of a community networking project, the end of a networking trial, this paper demonstrates how ICTs facilitate community participation and collective action by: 1) creating large, dense networks of relatively weak social ties, and 2) through the use of ICTs as an organizing tool.

    "Neighboring in Netville: How the Internet Supports Community and Social Capital in a Wired Suburb." by Keith Hampton and Barry Wellman, published by City and Community (Dec 2003). Link to Publication

    What is the Internet doing to local community? Analysts have debated about whether the Internet is weakening community by leading people away from meaningful in-person contact; transforming community by creating new forms of community online; or enhancing community by adding a new means of connecting with existing relationships. They have been especially concerned that the globe-spanning capabilities of the Internet would limit local involvements. Survey and ethnographic data from a “wired suburb” near Toronto shows that high-speed, always-on access to the Internet, coupled with a local online discussion group, transforms and enhances neighboring. The Internet especially supports increased contact with weaker ties. In comparison to non-wired residents of the same suburb, more neighbors are known and chatted with, and they are more geographically dispersed around the suburb. Not only did the Internet support neighboring, it also facilitated discussion and mobilization around local issues.


    Keith Hampton "Global Technologies - Local Networks: Studies in how ICTs Afford Local Social Capital and Social Networks" (04 28, 2004) at University of Oxford, Oxford Internet Institute. Website

    Keith Hampton "Studying E-neighbors and Netville - Virtual(ly) Research: The (re)Mediatization of Culture" (05 04, 2004) at University of British Columbia, Faculty of Education. Website

                          a Section of the American Sociological Association