Author: gustavo

Yossef, Arie & Gustavo S. Mesch: The Spatial and Social Network Dimensions of Mobile Communication

Forthcoming, Communication Research 

A Test of the Social Stratification and Social Diversification Hypotheses



Studies have shown that ethnic segregation is conducive to social segregation. With the advent of information and communication technologies, mobile communication can support non-local social interactions and reconfigure the network composition of ethnic groups. This study focused on the similarities and differences between ethno-national groups in the structure of their cell phone communications. Data for this study includes a sample of 9,099 business customers’ mobile phone calls from an  Israeli mobile operator and tested two theoretical explanations. The social stratification approach predicts that mobile communication will reflect the patterns of spatial and social stratification that exist in society. On the other hand, the social diversification hypothesis expects that residentially and socially segregated minority groups will take advantage of mobile communication to diversify their social contacts and to engage in mobile communications with non-local and out-group ties. The findings suggest that in the information society both structural conditions (the stratification approach) and social incentives (the diversification approach) are relevant for the understanding of inter-ethnic mobile communication and structural conditions reduced inter-group mobile communication patterns. Nevertheless, the Arab Israeli minority was more likely than the Jewish Israeli majority to engage in mobile communication with non-local ties and out-group members.

The Arab Israeli minority was more likely than the Jewish Israeli majority to engage in mobile communication with non-local ties and out-group members. Yet, structural conditions reduced inter-group mobile communication patterns. The theoretical implications of the findings for inter-group mobile communication are discussed.

Keywords: mobile communication, ethnic social segregation, minority status and ICT, network diversification

Hagit Sasson, Gustavo Mesch. Parental Mediation, Peer Norms and Risky Online Behavior. Computers in Human Behavior 33 (2014) 32–38

Parental mediation, peer norms and risky online behavior among adolescents



Previous studies have shown that parental mediation of adolescents online is associated with the latter’s participation in risky behavior online and being a victim of online harassment and bullying.  However, there is a paucity of studies investigating the differential contribution of peers’ norms and parental mediation on adolescents’ engagement in risky online behavior. To fill this gap in the literature, we collected data from a representative sample of 495 sixth to eleventh grade students in a large city in Israel. Participants responded to an online survey measuring three types of parental mediation: active guidance, restrictive supervision and non-intervention.  We measured risky behavior online with items indicating the frequency of posting personal details, sending an insulting massage and meeting face-to-face with a stranger met online. In addition, respondents reported their perceptions about their peers’ attitudes toward various risky online behaviors. Multivariate findings show that after controlling for age, gender, time spent online and online activities, only restrictive parental supervision had a significant effect. However, such supervision actually increased adolescents’ risky behavior online. Perceptions that one’s peers approve of such behavior reduced the effect of restrictive parental supervision, leading to increased risky actions online. The results emphasize the importance of peer networks in youngsters’ engagement in risky online activities.

New Paper Published in First Monday : Changes in the discourse of online hate blogs: The effect of Barack Obama’s election in 2008

This study examines the narrative strategies that the blogs of hate groups adopted before and after a central political event, namely, the 2008 election of President Obama in the U.S. Using data from a large number of hate blogs (N=600), and sentiment analysis and data mining, we tested two alternative hypotheses derived from social identification theory. We found that there were major differences between the content of these blogs before the election and immediately after the 2008 election, with the latter evincing an increase in the advocacy of violence and hostility. We also determined that faced with this new change, the hate groups adopted a social competition strategy rather than a creativity strategy to manage their identity. Our findings imply that since the election of Barack Obama as President, the worldview of online hate groups has become more violent. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Access the full manuscript at


Attention to the Media and Worry over Becoming Infected: The Case of the Swine Flu (H1N1) Epidemic of 2009

Attention to the Media and Worry over Becoming Infected: The Case of the Swine Flu (H1N1) Epidemic of 2009

Gustavo S. Mesch, Kent P. Schwirian & Tanya Kolobov

Accepted for Publication, Sociology of Health and Illness

Attention to the Media and Worry over Becoming Infected: The Case of the Swine Flu (H1N1) Epidemic of 2009

 This paper examines the relationship between attention to the mass media and concern about becoming infected with H1N1 in two nation-wide random samples interviewed during the flu epidemic of 2009. The first sample (N=1004) was taken at the end of the first wave of the outbreak and the second sample (N=1006) was taken as the second wave was accelerating. The data were gathered by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Over the period studied, almost all social categories of respondents increased in the percentage worried about becoming infected. With social category membership taken into account, both those who followed the H1N1 outbreak closely and those who were more interested in reports about it were more likely to be worried about becoming infected than did others. As time went on, interest in media reports declined but worry over infection continued to increase.  Our findings imply that despite the decrease in the percentage of the population expressing interest and following the news, media exposure was the most important factor explaining the likelihood of being concerned with being infected over and above risks factors and demographic profiles.



New Paper:Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis


Minority status and Health Information search: A test of the Social Diversification hypothesis

Forthcoming; Social Science and Medicine, 

Gustavo Mesch, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Haifa,

Rita Mano, Department of Human Services, University of Haifa,

Yeudit Tsamir, Department of Evaluation & Research, Maccabi Health Services,

Group differences in the search of health information were investigated, to test the
diversification hypothesis that argues that disadvantaged groups in society will be
more likely to use the Internet and computer mediated communication to access
health information to compensate for their lack of social capital. Data were gathered
from a sample of Internet users representative of the percentage of minorities in the
general population in Israel (n=1371). The results provide partial support for the
hypothesis, indicating that in multicultural societies disadvantaged groups show
greater motivation to use the Internet to access medical information than the majority
group. We interpreted our findings as suggesting that minority groups that do not
have access to specialized networks use the Internet to overcome their lack of access
to specialized information. Implications of the finding are discussed

Net Neutrality: an important concept

Net neutrality: Content must travel through Internet on equal terms
The Netherlands is the first country in Europe to adopt a net neutrality law, and the second country in the world, after Chile. The net neutrality law will ensure that access to the Internet is neutral and it is forbidden to filter the Internet.The law aims to prevent telecom providers from blocking or throttling services such as Skype or WhatsApp, an Internet SMS service. Internet providers will also be prohibited from making prices for their Internet services dependent on the services used by the subscriber

Instant Messaging Social Networks: Individual, Relational, and Cultural Characteristics


Gustavo S. Mesch

Department of Sociology & Anthropology

University of Haifa, Israel

Ilan Talmud

                        Department of Sociology & Anthropology

University of Haifa, Israel

Anabel Quan-Haase 

Faculty of Information & Media Studies

University of Western Ontario, Canada


Most research on social media tends to focus on individual or group level characteristics, neglecting to consider the influence of relational and cultural variables. To fill this void, we collected social network data in Israel (N = 492) and Canada (N = 293) to investigate the effect of individual, relational, and cultural variables on the frequency of communication via instant messaging (IM) and the multiplexity of communication topics. We found that geographic distance continues to matter in interpersonal contact in spite of heavy reliance on digital tools for connectivity. Similar patterns of association were discerned in both countries for propinquity, the use of IM, and closeness. We discuss the findings in terms of theories of networked individualism.

Soon to come in Journal of Personal and Social Relationships

Is online trust and trust in social institutions associated with online disclosure of identifiable information online?


Mesch, Gustavo S. (online). Is online trust and trust in social institutions associated with online disclosure of personal information online.


Computers in Human Behavior

his study investigated the association between trust in individuals, social institutions and online trust on the disclosure of personal identifiable information online. Using the Internet attributes approach that argues that some structural characteristics of the Internet such as lack of social cues and controllability are conducive to a disinhibitive behavior it was expected that face to face trust and online trust will not be associated. In addition, it was expected that from the three components of trust, online trust only will be associated with the disclosure of identifiable personal information online. A secondary analysis of the 2009 Pew and American Life of Internet users (n = 1698) survey was conducted. In contrast with the Internet attribute approach the effect of trust in individuals and institutions was indirectly associated with the disclosure of identifiable information online. Trust in individuals and institutions were found to be associated with online trust. However, online trust only, was found to be associated with the disclosure of personal identifiable information. While trust online encourages the disclosure of identifiable information, perception of privacy risks predicted refraining from posting identifiable information online. The results show a complex picture of the association of offline and online characteristics on online behavior.

Elected to the Board of Directors, Israeli Internet Association

The Israel Internet Association was established in 1994 as an independent entity that acts to promote the internet and its integration into Israel’s technological, research, educational, social and business infrastructure. The Association is managed by seven board members, all volunteers, and acts within this framework towards developing and advancing infrastructure services vital for the existence of the internet in Israel, narrowing the country’s digital divide and representing Israel in international forums that are significant in determining the future of the internet.


The management of this chapter of the Internet Society is handled by an elected Management Board:

  • Shaula Haitner
  • Dr. Alon Hasgal
  • Rimon Levy (President)
  • Prof. Judit Bar-Ilan
  • Prof. Gustavo S. Mesch
  • Shuky Peleg (Joshua) Peleg
  • Elad Salomons
  • Doron Shikmoni
  • Dr. Yesha Sivan

On Cyberbullying, interesting short review

A study by Gustavo S. Mesch indicates that adolescents vary in their willingness to share personal information online. It is determined, however, that most youth lack the ability to determine when one should withhold such information and cease communicating with strangers on the Internet (Mesch, p. 391). Though parents seek to teach their children about relationships and the importance of such values as “trust” and “honesty,” our world of ever-emerging communication technologies may cause the need to reevaluate these principles. The question remains: How can parents properly shelter their children from such threats when friends meet on the Internet?