Tawfiq Ammari, whose research focus is on the interplay between technological and social role change and issues pertaining to social interaction, justice, and technology, will join the SC&I faculty in the Library and Information Science Department in fall, 2020.
Ammari studies how large societal shifts, such as changing norms around masculinity, are associated with online interactions and social movements, and how the mass adoption of technologies such as social media and emerging technologies like voice assistants affect social roles in the domestic sphere.
“I use qualitative and computational techniques to study how parents, especially fathers and parents of children with special needs, use social media sites like Facebook and Reddit. I also use log analysis to study how families use technologies like Amazon Alexa,” Ammari said.
Currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, Ammari earned an M.S. in Information from the University of Michigan, and a B.Sc in Computer Engineering from the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan.
Ammari’s research on social roles has wide practical applications and his findings can benefit all members of society in various ways. “We all go through social role change at some point or another – becoming a parent, getting divorced, getting a new job, getting a promotion, being diagnosed with a disease,” Ammari said. “While not all social transitions are associated with stress (for example, a promotion is probably something one looks forward to attaining), many are.”
Through his research exploring the ways parents interact with technology, Ammari hopes to create change that will improve the lives of parents. While parenting has always been complicated and extremely demanding, today parent’s roles continue to evolve, and technology has created new opportunities but also new burdens and challenges for parents.
“I have focused on studying parenting because the views around parenting have changed a lot over the past few decades for both mothers and fathers,” Ammari said. “Mothers have had to take on more responsibilities as they entered the labor market. As social media and other technologies became more ubiquitous, mothers have also taken yet another shift managing how families are presented online. Fathers, on the other hand, have to make sense of ambiguous expectations of the ‘new dad.’ While they are expected to do more at home, many still view them as the primary breadwinners in the family. All these societal changes increase the stress on both mothers and fathers as they cope with the role transition to parenting. I study how engineers and designers can better design social media sites to help parents cope with their role transitions.”
Ammari said he is looking forward to joining the faculty for a variety of reasons. “I am thrilled to be joining SC&I as it is great department for interdisciplinary researchers who do research at the intersection of social change, justice, and technological progress. I am looking forward to collaborating with SC&I scholars as I expand my research into different areas including the use of technology by refugees, and the introduction of emerging technologies (e.g., virtual reality) in domestic environments. I am also looking forward to start working with and mentoring students at SC&I!”
Ammari will teach Management of Technological Organizations in Fall 2020. He hopes to also teach other classes in the future including Data analytics for Information Professionals, Human-Computer Interaction, and Foundations of Information Design and Informatics.
The overarching message Ammari hopes to communicate to students through his teaching, he said, is “to better understand the ways in which technology can affect us in our social interactions, and how we in turn, as users, designers, engineers, and managers can change the way technology is designed and used.”
When Ammari joins the Rutgers faculty, it will be the first time he has lived in New Jersey and the U.S. East Coast, and he is looking forward to exploring the region’s beaches and national parks.