I use mixed methods to study the sociological side of urban design, planning, and technology. These days, I mostly study things.

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Things are always more interesting than we think, especially the boring ones. They have all kinds of ideas about society embedded in them. I study big things, like vacant suburban homes and lawns in public parks, but I also study small things, like folding chairs and mobile phones.

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I also occasionally publish research on the sociology of culture and the media. Here is some recent and not-so-recent research I’ve been working on, in case you’re interested:

  • The Subway as Fourth Place: Anomie, Flanerie, and the ‘Crush of Persons’, with colleagues Peter Tuckel and Bill Milzarski and a talented group of applied social research graduate students. We sent our students into the subway to ride the rails and make systematic observations on subway etiquette. (Are you a “pole hog?”) The fancy academic version came out in Applied Mobilities in 2018, but the research project got some media coverage before that:
    • My colleague Bill Milzarski and I were on the NY1 show In Transit this spring talking about this research. (by the way, being on TV is no fun, and seeing yourself on TV is even worse.)
    • This research was also picked up by CBS Local, and the Daily News.