Gina Neff

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Gina Neff
Headshot of Gina Neff, against a white background
Neff in 2019
Born (1971-01-23) January 23, 1971 (age 53)
Campton, Kentucky, USA
SpousePhilip N. Howard
Academic background
Alma mater[1]
Doctoral advisorDavid C. Stark[1]
Academic work
DisciplineSocial Science

Gina Neff is the Executive Director of the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy at the University of Cambridge.[2] Neff was previously Professor of Technology & Society at the Oxford Internet Institute and the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford.[3] Neff is an organizational 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.[3]


Neff holds a PhD in sociology from Columbia University, where she remains an external faculty affiliate of the Center on Organizational Innovation.[3] She has held appointments at Princeton University, New York University, Stanford University, UC San Diego and UC Los Angeles. Previously she was assistant professor at University of California, San Diego,[4] 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. She completed her high school education at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West.[5]


Self-Tracking, explores what happens when people turn their everyday experiences into data, examining the habits and usage of self-tracking.[6] The book explores the cultural phenomenon of health-related self-tracking.[7] 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 to be 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. It was awarded Co-Winner, American Sociological Association Section on Communication and Information Technologies (CITASA) 2013 Book Award.[8]

Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries, looks at Silicon Alley in the 1990s and explores why pioneering internet companies chose to invest in start-up ventures. Neff attributes this to a broader shift in society with the shift of economic risk from collective responsibility to individual responsibility. She argues that understanding ‘venture labour’ is important to encourage innovation and create sustainable work environments.[9] The book focuses on the norms, values, attitudes, and individual experiences related to the system-wide changes resulting from the expanding use of the Internet in the late 20th century.[10] It won the Best Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Communication and Information Technologies in 2013.[11]

Surviving the New Economy[12] explores how employees of technology industries address their concerns about instability in the workplace via both traditional collective bargaining and through innovative action. 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.


At the Oxford Internet Institute, Neff was the leader of a multinational comparative research project that studies the effects of the adoption of Artificial Intelligence across various industries.[3] This project encompasses two major studies looking at the future of work in data-rich environments: The “Al & Data Diversity” project aims to advance public understanding of data diversity and the everyday decisions around technological innovations and AI[13] and the “Data Work: Collaboration, Sense Making and the Possible Futures For Work” project explores the effects of new types of data on workplace practices.[14]


Neff taught the “Social Dynamics of the Internet” course,[3] a compulsory course for Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy students studying at the Oxford Internet Institute. 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.


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.


  1. ^ a b Neff, Gina (October 2015). "Dr. Gina Neff Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "Gina Neff". Retrieved 2023-01-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Gina Neff". Archived from the original on 2021-12-16.
  4. ^ "On the 30th Anniversary of the UCSD Communication Department". Retrieved 2021-12-17.
  5. ^ "Gina Neff '89 Podcast on Work and the Web". UWC-USA. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  6. ^ "Self Tracking".
  7. ^ Pages, The Society. "Book Review: Self-Tracking by Gina Neff & Dawn Nafus - Cyborgology". Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  8. ^ "Book Award". CITAMS | Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology. 2018-08-04. Retrieved 2021-04-19.
  9. ^ Gina Neff (2012). Venture labor : work and the burden of risk in innovative industries. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01748-0.
  10. ^ Sherman, Melina (2014). "Gina Neff, Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries". International Journal of Communication. 8: 4 – via
  11. ^ "Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology Award Recipient History". American Sociological Association. 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2021-04-19.
  12. ^ Amman, John; Carpenter, Tris; Neff, Gina (2007). Surviving the new economy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59451-249-0.
  13. ^ "OII | AI & Data Diversity". Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  14. ^ "OII | Data Work: Collaboration, Sense Making and the Possible Futures for Work". Retrieved 2021-03-08.

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