Gina Neff, Professor of Technology & Society at the Oxford Internet Institute
|Born||January 23, 1971|
Campton, Kentucky, USA
|Spouse(s)||Philip N. Howard|
|Doctoral advisor||David C. Stark|
Gina Neff is Professor of Technology & Society at the Oxford Internet Institute and the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford. Neff is an organisational sociologist whose research explores the social and organizational impact of new communication technologies, with a focus on innovation, the digital transformation of industries, and how new technologies impact work.
Neff leads a multinational comparative research project at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, on the effects of the adoption of AI across multiple industries. This project encompasses two major studies looking at the future of work in data-rich environments. The “Al & Data Diversity” project seeks to advance public understanding of data diversity and the everyday decisions around AI and technology innovation. This will help build better technologies and strengthen the science on diversity in technology-led growth. The “Data Work: Collaboration, Sense Making and the Possible Futures For Work” project  explores how new types of data change workplace practices.
In the past five years her research has been financially supported by UK taxpayers, the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the US National Science Foundation, the University of Washington, the Leverhulme Trust, and Microsoft.
As part of her science communication and policy outreach, she has served in an advisory capacity with paid talks, paid training or service on an advisory board or working group with the following organizations: DigiMed, LSE Configuring Light Project, Data & Society Research Institute, EU VIRT-EU Project, IAC, ING Bank, NSF Understanding Public Uses of Data and Dashboards Project, Northern Illinois University, Minderoo Foundation, Said School of Business Executive Education, Structure Tone, The Women’s Forum for Economy & Society, University of Calgary Gairdner Lecture, Zinc VC.
Neff teaches the “Social Dynamics of the Internet” course, a compulsory course for MSc and DPhil students studying at the Oxford Internet Institute, part of the University of Oxford. The course is designed to curate a common basis of understanding in order to debate the internet and to create a shared understanding of the social implications of the internet. It draws upon material from several social science disciplines including communication studies, sociology, anthropology, political science and ethics.
Neff holds a PhD in sociology from Columbia University, where she remains an external faculty affiliate of the Center on Organizational Innovation. She has held appointments at Princeton University, New York University, Stanford University, UC San Diego and UC Los Angeles. Previously she was Associate Professor at the University of Washington. and Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy at Central European University. She was also a faculty member at the Center for Media, Data and Society.
Self-Tracking, explores what happens when people turn their everyday experiences into data, examining the habits and usage of self-tracking. Neff and her co-author Dawn Nafus explore how people record, analyse and reflect on this data, looking at the tools they use and the communities they become part of. They consider self-tracking as a social and cultural phenomenon, describing not only the use of data as a kind of mirror of the self but also how this enables people to connect to, and learn from, others, using data in a way that empowers and educates. It was awarded Co-Winner, American Sociological Association Section on Communication and Information Technologies (CITASA) 2013 Book Award.
Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries, focuses on the effects of Silicon Alley in the 1990s. The book explores why employees pioneering internet companies chose to invest their time, energy, hopes and human capital in start-up ventures. Neff links this behaviour to a broader shift in society with economic risk shifted from collective responsibility to individual responsibility. She argues that understanding ‘venture labour’ is important for encouraging innovation and creating sustainable work environments that support workers. It won the Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Communication and Information Technologies.
Surviving the New Economy explores how people working in technology industries are addressing their concerns about the instability in the workplace via both traditional collective bargaining and through innovative actions. Neff and co-authors John Anman and Tris Carpenter draw upon case studies from the United States and abroad, to examine how highly skilled workers are surviving in a global economy in which the rules have changed and how they are reshaping their workplaces in the process.