Reuben (Jack) Thomas

Reuben (Jack) Thomas

Reuben J. Thomas
Associate Professor of Sociology
Department of Sociology & Criminology
The University of New Mexico
MSC05 3080
1915 Roma NE Suite 1103
Albuquerque, NM 87131-001
Office: Social Sciences Building, Room 1070
My most current CV

I study social structure at the level of interpersonal relationships, and how social phenomena at both larger and small scales play out through these social networks. In my work thus far, I've examined how online dating is changing the composition of couples, how changes across the lifecourse affect friendship segregation, how embeddedness in adolescent societies can impact civic engagement, how changing dynamics in interpersonal networks may have led to the pre-historical emergence of social stratification, and social closure in the structural sources of romantic relationships.

Projects & Papers

Couple Formation

How couples meet, and why it matters, with particular attention to endogamy by race\ethnicity and social class.

Thomas, Reuben J. 2020. "Online Exogamy Reconsidered: Estimating the Internet's Effects on Racial, Educational, Religious, Political and Age Assortative Mating." Social Forces 98,3: 1257-86.
(working paper version)

Proportions of Couples who Met Online, by Year and Online Source:
Online Couples

Thomas, Reuben J. "Romantic Opportunity Hoarding: Stratified Differences in How Couples Meet."

Rosenfeld, Michael J., Reuben J. Thomas, and Sonia Hausen. 2019. "Disintermediating Your Friends: How Online Dating in the United States Displaces Other Ways of Meeting." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116,36: 17753-8.

Rosenfeld, Michael J., Reuben J. Thomas, and Sonia Hausen. 2019. How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017 Fresh Sample. [Computer files]. Stanford, CA. Stanford University Libraries.

Thomas, Reuben J. 2014. "Online Dating Can Change The World, But So Far It Hasn't." Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

Rosenfeld, Michael J. and Reuben J. Thomas. 2012. "Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary." American Sociological Review 77,4:523-47.

Rosenfeld, Michael J. and Reuben J. Thomas. 2009. How Couples Meet and Stay Together, Wave I: Public version 1.01 [Computer file]. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries, 2009-11-01.

England, Paula and Reuben J. Thomas. 2006. "The Decline of the Date and the Rise of the College Hook Up." in Arlene Skolnick and Jerome Skolnick (ed.) Family in Transition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
[Reprinted 2009 in Susan J. Ferguson (ed.) Mapping the Social Landscape: Readings in Sociology. New York: McGraw Hill.]

Structural Sources of Friendship Segregation

There's a tendency to view the segregation of human relationships by race, ethnicity, gender and social class as an intrinsic psychological tendency, or a cultural imperative. But the ways societies and life within them are structured play a large role as well.

Thomas, Reuben J. 2019. "Sources of Friendship and Structurally-Induced Homophily Across the Life Course." Sociological Perspectives 62,6: 822-43.
(working paper version)

How Americans Meet the Two Non-Family Friends They Most Often Socialize With, by Gender and Age Met:
How Friends Met

Randall Munroe's adaption for his new book, combining women and men:
How Friends Meet

The Network Structure of Educational Youth Societies

The social structure of youth friendships and affiliations within educational settings, and their consequences for transitions to adulthood.

Thomas, Reuben J. and Daniel A McFarland. 2010. "Joining Young, Voting Young: The Effects of Youth Voluntary Associations on Early Adult Voting." Working Paper No. 73, The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), Tufts University, Medford, MA.

McFarland, Daniel, James Moody, Jeff A. Smith, David Diehl and Reuben J. Thomas. 2014. "Network Ecology and Adolescent Social Structure." American Sociological Review 79,6:1088-121.

McFarland, Daniel A. and Reuben J. Thomas. 2006. "Bowling Young: How Youth Voluntary Associations Influence Adult Political Participation." American Sociological Review 71,3:401-25.

The Origins of Complex Social Structure

Human societies were once very small and much simpler than they are today. Understanding how and why they changed may help us understand persistent and tenacious features of larger human societies, such as inherited social stratification.

Thomas, Reuben J. and Noah P. Mark. 2013. "Population Size, Network Density, and the Emergence of Inherited Inequality." Social Forces 92,2:521-44.

Social Networks and Well-Being

The embeddedness of people in networks of support and community is a crucial part of their well-being. I'm involved in public health intervention studies in New Mexico that measure changes in participants' social networks over time as they take part in programs to improve their well-being.

Page-Reeves, Janet, Megan Rivera, Lidia Regino, Maria Tellez, Jackie Perez, Dulce Medina, Virginia Sandoval, Camille Vasquez, Daniel Perez, Pachely Mendivil-Aguayo, Reuben J. Thomas, Elaine Bearer, Alejandro Aragon, Cristina Murray-Krezan. (forthcoming) "Revealing the Power of Peer Support in the Lives of Women Immigrants from Mexico." Human Organization.

Mendivil-Aguayo, Pachely, Megan Rivera, Daniela Armendariz, Daniel Perez Rodriguez, Camille Vasquez, Lidia Regino, Maria Tellez, Jackie Perez, Dulce Medina, Virginia Sandoval, Cristina Murray-Krezan, Alejandro Aragon, Reuben J. Thomas, Elaine L. Bearer, and Janet Page-Reeves. 2024. "Zoom & WhatsApp Digital Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Enhance Community Engaged Research with Women Immigrants from Mexico." Journal of Community Practice.


Soc 325: Couples, Family and Friendship (syllabus)
Soc 381L: Sociological Data Analysis (syllabus)
Soc 444: Games & Society
Soc 500: Classical Sociological Theory (Graduate)
Soc 581 & 582: Advanced Social Statistics I (syllabus) & II (syllabus) (Graduate)
Soc 595: Social Networks (Graduate)

Selected Media Coverage

NBC News (op-ed), "The Covid vaccine is ending isolation. Don't shrink your social network just because you can." Reuben Thomas (me), 6/6/2021.

KSFR (Santa Fe, interview), "Internet Love is Here to Stay," with Mary Lou Cooper, 3/4/2020.

KQED (San Francisco), Forum (panelist), "The Decade in Dating," with Rachel Myrow, 12/27/2019.

Albuquerque Journal, "Old Dating Ways Outdated; Love Now Found on Apps," Ryan Boetel, 11/3/2019.

Satuday Night Live, Weekend Update, "Pete Davidson on Sexually Transmitted Diseases," (the part about online dating desegregating, at 1:17), 10/12/2019.

NBC News (op-ed), "Online Dating, Now the Most Common Way Couples Meet, is Desegregating America," Reuben J. Thomas (me), 10/6/2019.

Forge, "How to Make Friends the Hard Way and the Easy Way," Randall Munroe (of, 8/28/2019. Also in his new book HOW TO: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, "How Meet Cutes Have Changed in the 21st Century," Heather Schwedel, 7/15/2019.

Washington Post, "Tinder has more matchmaking power than your BFF. But dating apps aren't necessarily your friends." Lisa Bonos & Andrew Van Dam, 6/19/2019.

Quartz, "Friend Zone: Here's where Americans meet the friends they see the most," Corinne Purtill & Dan Kopf, 9/12/2018

The Economist, "Meet markets: How the internet has changed dating," 8/18/2018

Market Watch, "Online dating is bringing Americans of all religions, race and classes together," Quentin Fotrell, 3/7/2018

BBC News, "Love and dating after the Tinder revolution," Padraig Belton, 2/13/2018

New York Times, "First Comes Tinder, Then Comes Marriage?" Sophia Kercher, 4/19/2017

Atlanta Journal & Constitution,, "New study: Why cliques flourish in some high schools and not others," Maureen Downey, 11/7/2014

Boston Globe, Uncommon Knowledge, "Inequality: Blame Social Networks?" Kevin Lewis, 8/11/2013, "You Won't Meet Prince Charming at the Supermarket, No Matter What Crystal Light Says," Anna North, 1/10/2012