Sixth Brown Bag of the Semester – March 22, 2013

Audio of the brown bag is available here.

Amy Gonzales, Assistant Professor: Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University

Disadvantaged Groups and Technology Use: Strategies & Survival


Certain populations (e.g. low-income, racial minorities) have historically been excluded from access to social capital (e.g. well-paying jobs, quality  healthcare). How is Internet technology being used to counter this social inequality? How is mobile technology in particular being used as a tool for health and well-being? I examine these questions in two studies: the first is a diary study of 2,660 social interactions from participants with diverse racial and educational backgrounds. The second involves semi-structured interviews with people in low-income communities in New York City. Survival strategies are addressed, including technology maintenance, which is the negotiation of technology that is increasingly available, but poorly functioning or temporarily disconnected.



Amy Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University. She completed her PhD in Communication from Cornell in 2010. She has a MA from Cornell in Communication and a MA in Social Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research examines the effects that communication technologies have on individual identity, social support, and well-being. She is especially interested in these effects for people from disadvantaged communities.

Faculty Appreciation

gradspace@IUtel has received the following video evidence that two of our newest faculty, Amy Gonzales and Paul Wright have been bitten by the Hoosier basketball bug and were recognized during the IU Women’s Basketball Faculty appreciation night on February 7, 2013.

It was also leaked to us that during the event “Wright told the other departments to ‘represent!'” and “Gonzales challenged several faculty to play her one-on-one.”

Introducing Amy

by Teresa Lynch

The semester is slipping away quickly.  Before too much more time passed, we wanted to “introduce” the newest member of the Telecom faculty in a more personal way.  If you’ve been around the Radio-Television building, chances are you’ve seen Amy Gonzales around even if you haven’t gotten a chance to speak to her yet.  As a brand new faculty member, Amy has her hands full not only adjusting to life in a new town, but also settling in to the demands of a new job.  In addition to research projects on how communication technology can enhance well-being, individual identity, and social support, Amy is also teaching two undergraduate courses this fall, T195 (Topical Seminar in Telecom: Social Media) and T205 (Intro to Media and Society).  The schedule is keeping her busy, but happily so.

Amy in her office next to a picture of her aunt.

Amy is from Delano – a city in south central California that began as a small railroad town.  Delano is somewhat overshadowed by Bakersfield, a city that Amy acknowledges is bigger, but doesn’t have the charm and character of the heavily multicultural Delano. Furthermore, Delano has the honor of having served as the starting point for the National Farm Workers Association’s march to Sacremento led by César Chávez to protest unfair wages for local farmer workers. Amy’s grandfather started a clothing store that catered primarily to the farming population of the area.  The business was taken over by her parents, who still work and reside in the area, which is still heavily agriculture oriented.

As for Amy, her post-high school move was to the not-terribly-far-away University of California – San Diego.  After completing her bachelor’s degree, she worked multiple jobs concurrently, as a medical translator for local farm workers, a salesperson at the GAP, and perhaps most importantly as a substitute teacher.  It was the job as a substitute teacher that made Amy realize that she enjoyed teaching, but wanted to work with students “who wouldn’t take their shoes off in the middle of class and sleep.”  When I asked whether IU’s undergraduates were fulfilling this stipulation, she laughed and assured me she was.

Amy’s academic career has taken her all over the United States.  She completed her M.A. at the University of Texas in Austin, her Ph.D. at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where she met her wife, and a post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia before settling here in Bloomington.  And so far she and her wife, a new faculty member with joint appointment in Sociology and Gender Studies departments, have thoroughly enjoyed Bloomington.  Amy says it reminds her quite a bit of Ithaca, but with far less hills.  It’s been a fun town to explore and a great place for the outdoor activities she loves.  Particularly, she’s excited about revisiting Brown County for the fall foliage.

I found that as we had chatted, I had without realizing answered as many questions about myself and my experience in the department as I had asked of my interviewee.  That she had slipped those questions in so easily speaks to Amy’s charismatic quality and open, friendliness.  I would encourage you all to introduce yourself to her and welcome her as our newest addition.