Matthew Pearce


I study globalization, higher education, social informatics of the internet, and organizations. I am also interested in quantitative methods and machine learning.

Starting my career as a professionally trained teacher working in middle school and university programs, my attachment to education began as a practitioner and developed as a researcher. My current work looks at the role of universities in rationalizing authority of cultural domains over the last hundred years. Broadly, I am interested in globalization of culture and the ways in which large cultural institutions interact with each other.

My dissertation uses cross-national time series data to describe and statistically model the global expansion of the internet and test whether institutionalized international norms substantially drive the pattern of growth that we see. Because it is taken for granted within international discourse that nations should be connected, countries and leaders may expand the internet for normative and cultural reasons in order to fit into the identity expectations of what a nation should look like. This argument about the importance of these international norms counters existing explanations which privilege societal democratization and economic factors in order to demonstrate that the internet is not just driven by technical and economic processes but also acts like a cultural institution.

In addition to a PhD and an MA in Sociology from UC Irvine, I hold an MA in Educational Policy and Organizations with an emphasis in Higher Education from Stanford University. I have taught within Sociology, Political Science and Leadership Studies departments.