Jeffrey Lane studies communication and technology as it relates to urban life, criminal justice, and social inequalities. He approaches these topics through ethnography in person and online. Lane is the author of The Digital Street (Oxford University Press, 2019), a neighborhood study of social media use in Harlem (NYC). His current streams of research include social media as evidence in criminal court, the role of gender in school discipline, and a visual study of perceptions of Harlem. Lane teaches courses in Urban Communication, Communication, Technology & Society, Mediated Communication, Qualitative Methods, and Ethnography.
Jeffrey Lane studies urban communication issues and has written the first book about neighborhood street life in the digital age. Lane’s research has informed a needs assessment and a strategic plan for juvenile gangs convened by New York’s Center for Court Innovation. This is vitally important, because, as Lane notes, “There's a question of which adults in the community get to kids in trouble first. In New York City, we have a social media unit within the police department focused on juvenile justice, but public school teachers are not permitted to have contact on social media with their students. The police are so far ahead of other constituencies in online intervention that they double sometimes as social service providers for at-risk teens and their families.”
As a child growing up in New York City, Lane began thinking about differences in childhood and adolescence, depending on which part of the city kids were from. His interest grew in college when he became fascinated by urban ethnography, the “tradition of participant observation of city life.” He was, and still is, fascinated by accounts of everyday interaction within neighborhoods. In his research, he takes these accounts online. The extension of street life online is an important part of the urban experience and a key dimension of urban change.
The Digital Street is the title and subject of his new, award-winning book with Oxford University Press on the social media use that brokers street life. The project draws on nearly five years of ethnographic research online and offline in Harlem with a set of teenagers and the adults concerned about them. Lane's previous book, Under the Boards (University of Nebraska Press) focuses on the production of race, masculinity, and popular culture in the basketball industry.
Centers, Labs, Working Groups, and Clusters
- Social Media & Society Cluster
- Media, Inequality and Change Center (MIC)
- SC&I Youth Cluster
- Digital Ethnography Working Group
Lane, J. (2020). A smartphone case method: Reimagining social relationships with smartphone data. Journal of Children and Media, 14(4). Published online before print January 3, 2020.
Lane, J. (2018, November). The digital street. New York, Oxford University Press.
Lane, J., Ramirez, F.A., & Pearce, K.E. (2018). Guilty by visible association: Socially mediated visibility in gang prosecutions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, first published online before print October 22, 2018.
Lane, J. (2016). The Digital Street: An Ethnographic Study of Networked Street Life in Harlem. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(1), 43-58.
Patton, D.U., Lane, J., Leonard, P., MacBeth, J., & Smith-Lee, J.R. (2016). Gang violence on the digital street: A case study of a Southside Chicago gang member’s communication on Twitter. New Media & Society, 1–19.
Awards & Recognitions
2019 Best Book Award for The Digital Street, Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Section (CITAMS), American Sociological Association (ASA)
2019 Nancy Baym Book Award for The Digital Street, Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR)
2019 Honorable Mention, Book of the Year Award for The Digital Street from the Human Communication & Technology Division (HCTD) of the National Communication Association (NCA)
2019 Distinguished Achievement in Research Award, Department of Communication, Rutgers University
2017 Outstanding Ph.D. Faculty Award, Doctoral Student Association, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University
2017 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award, Department of Communication, Rutgers University
- Justice and Society
- Online Communities
- Multidisciplinary (incl. Sociological)
- Media and Social Justice
- Marginalized and Under-represented Populations
- Communication Technology
- Children and Media
- Children and Families
- Digital Inequality
- Policing and Security
- Political/Civic Engagement
- Popular Culture
- Qualitative Research
- Relationships and Social Networks
- Social Justice
- Social Media
- Social Media and Society
- Urban Community
- Urban Media
- Urban Studies
- Young Adults
Research cited and interviewed in The Atlantic, “When Cops Check Facebook,” 4/19/15
THE DIGITAL STREET