[Air-l] check before you write

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Tue Jun 27 13:02:49 PDT 2006

I am saddened by Mark Bell's note to this list:

Mark Bell wrote:
> interesting study....sort of. I doubt it even mentions online social
> relationships or concurrent online/rl relationships. It almost sounds to me
> to be from some pro-nuclear family agenda (he golden days in the 50's when we
> had the Murphy's over to play cards and we actually talked). For instance
> how many of you would i be contacting in the 80's? I feel more connected
> than ever to people. But then I'm a nerd =)
> Anyone have a copy of the real study?
There is a link on the Washington Post website to the ASR article.
And also at the asanet.org (front page)
Plus of course the article is in the print and online version of the
journal, American Sociological Review, June 2006.
(All of which was stated in my original post about it.)

Why am I saddened:

1. Not every piece of research has to be about online relationships. This
one asked who people discuss important matters with -- no more and no
less. It didn't specify whether it is online or offline.

2. Asking that question is legitimate. It is not a pro-nuclear family
agenda. And as my note said, it is from the gold-standard US General
Social Survey, which is vetted by serious scholars, and exactly replicates
a 1985 survey question. In addition, as 2 minutes with scholar.google
would have shown, these are serious, respected scholars with a long track

3. Now, as I have said before, I have problems with the social isolation
spin that the news media put on the article, but trashing it without
reading it is silly -- especially on a list dedicated to Research --
that's the "R" in AOIR -- and long may it stay there and not become the


  Barry Wellman         Professor of Sociology        NetLab Director
  wellman at chass.utoronto.ca  http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
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