5 questions with Harvard’s Mario Luis Small

"The United States has a strong tradition of encouraging people to pursue their interests, aspirations, in spite of the obstacles that may be on the way. This can-do attitude has benefited the country immensely over the years. In this context, it is important that we create and support both private and public institutions that support people’s ability to meet their aspirations, that facilitate their access to other people and their resources."

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., Grafstein Family Professor at Harvard University, is the author of award-winning books and articles on networks, poverty, organizations, culture, methods, neighborhoods, institutions, and other topics. He is currently using large-scale administrative data to understand isolation in cities, studying how people use their networks to meet their needs, and exploring the epistemological foundations of qualitative research. His latest book is Someone To Talk To (Oxford). A study of how people decide whom to approach when seeking support, the book is an inquiry into human nature, a critique of network analysis, and a discourse on the role of qualitative research in the big-data era.

Mario serves on Capita’s Advisory Board and spoke with me recently about leveraging early childhood education and care programs to build social capital, his latest research, and what he thinks is healthiest about America today.