Sociologies of data and governing, Big Data, social science methods, science and technology studies, population censuses, open government data, city objects
Evelyn joined the Department in April 2013 from the Centre for Research on Socio-cultural Change (CRESC), a collaboration between the Open University and the University of Manchester. With Mike Savage (Sociology, LSE) and John Law (Sociology, The Open University), she co-convened a research theme called The Social Life of Methods. She is founding editor of a new SAGE journal, Big Data & Society: Critical Interdisciplinary Inquiries, launched in 2014.
Prior to academic life, she worked for 11 years as a professional planner and government policy advisor and consultant. She returned to university and completed a doctorate in sociology in 2002. From 2002 - 2008, she was part of an interdisciplinary team (sociology, history, geography) of 12 researchers and government agencies (Statistics Canada and the Library and Archives of Canada) responsible for building a series of databases (microdata, textual data, geocodes) on the 1911-51 Canadian censuses of population. From 2004-8, she was Assistant Professor of Sociology at Trent University (Canada) and from 2009-13 a Senior Research Fellow at CRESC (UK).
I am a Data Sociologist and my focus is on how different socio-technical devices organise and constitute populations as objects of knowledge and governing. I have examined censuses as one such device and extended this to contemporary practices and modes of expertise involved in ‘assembling’ identities through joined up government administrative databases and ‘big data’. I am interested in how these devices enact different kinds of populations and the different forms of power and intervention they invent and make possible. I also examine how government data is used to compile indicators and indices of the performance of populations, how digitised data ‘travels’ and is made public through various government websites, and the devices and methods that are innovated and used to analyse and interpret data.
Another area of governance that I have researched concerns how populations are managed through material interventions in cities. In the past I have done this through the analysis of large scale urban remaking projects (The Moral Economy of Cities).
ARITHMUS is a multi-year project that investigates how governing the EU is bound up with methods of knowing who constitutes the European population. While typically framed as a methodological or statistical problem, I approach this as a practical and political problem of assembling multiple national populations into a European population and people. I am doing this primarily through the ethnographic study of high-level meetings of EU statisticians through which I am examining how new information and communication technologies, in addition to other things, are stimulating methodological diversification such that the usual field and questionnaire based method of enumeration is being increasingly replaced by joined up government administrative and population register databases. Additionally, I am examining how Big Data practices are challenging official statistics and the way that phenomena such as the 'economy' and 'population' are represented and enacted. The first stage of the project is funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme small grant (2013-15) – Counting Britain in Europe - and the second by an ERC Consolidator Grant (2014-19) - Peopling Europe: How data make a people.
Socialising Big Data: identifying the risks and vulnerabilities of digital data-objects is an ESRC strategic investment and collaboration between colleagues at Manchester, Warwick and Lancaster universities (2013-14). The project investigates the risks and challenges of Big Data such as privacy, security, relevance, accuracy, representativeness, and stability and how these qualities make ways of knowing vulnerable to various forms of failure. Our concern is with how Big Data creates new vulnerabilities in part because of the tendency to overlook the social lives of data, which are neither natural nor technical phenomena, but enacted and sustained through multiple and selective social practices.
Doing the Transparent State is a study of the UK government's Transparency Agenda as a generative device that produces data publics, enacts the transparent state and at the same time renders transparency elusive. I develop these propositions to think more generally about various transparency devices such as audits and indicators.
The Baroque as Empirical Sensibility is a project I co-lead with John Law at the OU, which asks a number of questions: what can we learn from the baroque, the material character of its art forms, and its sense of the relations between body, experience, and technique? What can we learn from its recognition of its own performativity? How might we use features of the baroque to enrich contemporary empirical research? How has the baroque been used as a resource to resist power and express other concerns, or as a tool for exploring the alternative versions of history?
The Moral Economy of Cities: Shaping Good Citizens
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2006. The Moral Economy of Cities: Shaping Good Citizens. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802038869
A baroque sensibility for Big Data visualisations
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2016. A baroque sensibility for Big Data visualisations. In: John Law and Evelyn Ruppert, eds. Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque. UK: Mattering Press, pp. 136-165. ISBN 978-0-9931449-8-1
Big Data Economies and Ecologies
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2016. Big Data Economies and Ecologies. In: L. Ryan and L. McKie, eds. An End to the Crisis of Empirical Sociology? Trends and Challenges in Social Science Research. London: Routledge, pp. 12-26. ISBN 9781138828674
Doing the Transparent State: open government data as performance indicators
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2015. Doing the Transparent State: open government data as performance indicators. In: R. Rottenburg; S. E. Merry; S-J Park and J Mugler, eds. A World of Indicators: The making of governmental knowledge through quantification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 127-150. ISBN 9781107450837
Infrastructures of Census Taking
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2014. Infrastructures of Census Taking. In: Gordon Darroch, ed. The Dawn of Canada's Century: Hidden Histories. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, pp. 51-70. ISBN 9780773542525
Seeing Population: Census and Surveillance by Numbers
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2012. Seeing Population: Census and Surveillance by Numbers. In: Kirstie Ball; Kevin Haggerty and David Lyon, eds. Routledge International Handbook of Surveillance Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 209-216. ISBN 10: 0415588839
Shaping Good Cities and Citizens
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2011. Shaping Good Cities and Citizens. In: Sophie Watson and Gary Bridge, eds. The New Blackwell Companion to the City. London: Blackwell, pp. 667-678. ISBN 10: 1-4051-8981-9
Making Populations: From Censuses to Metrics
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2010. Making Populations: From Censuses to Metrics. In: L Hempel; S Krasmann and U Bröckling, eds. Visibility Regimes: Monitoring, Security and Privacy in the 21st Century. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, pp. 157-173. ISBN 10: 3531164112
Big data: Issues for an international political sociology of the datafication of worlds
Madsen, A.K.; Flyverbom, M.; Hilbert, M. and Ruppert, Evelyn. 2017. Big data: Issues for an international political sociology of the datafication of worlds. International Political Sociology, ISSN 1749-5679
The Other Davos: A Sociologist Goes to the World Economic Forum
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2017. The Other Davos: A Sociologist Goes to the World Economic Forum. The Sociological Review, ISSN 0038-0261
On Doing Words with Things: Citizens, Claims and Digital Acts
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2015. On Doing Words with Things: Citizens, Claims and Digital Acts. The Sociological Review,
Not Just Another Database: The Transactions that Enact Young Offenders
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2013. Not Just Another Database: The Transactions that Enact Young Offenders. Computational Culture, pp. 1-13.
Reassembling Social Science Methods: the challenge of digital devices
Ruppert, Evelyn; Law, John and Savage, Mike. 2013. Reassembling Social Science Methods: the challenge of digital devices. Theory, Culture & Society, 30(4), pp. 22-46. ISSN 0263-2764
Introduction: The Social Life of Methods - Devices
Ruppert, Evelyn and Law, John. 2013. Introduction: The Social Life of Methods - Devices. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(4), pp. 1-12. ISSN 1753-0350
Anticipating Failure: Transparency Devices and their Effects
Harvey, Penny; Reeves, Madeleine and Ruppert, Evelyn. 2012. Anticipating Failure: Transparency Devices and their Effects. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(4), pp. 1-19.
Becoming Peoples: “Counting Heads in Northern Wilds”
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2009. Becoming Peoples: “Counting Heads in Northern Wilds”. Journal of Cultural Economy, 2(1/2), pp. 11-31. ISSN 1753-0350
"I is; therefore I am”: The Census as Narrative and Practice of Double Identification
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2008. "I is; therefore I am”: The Census as Narrative and Practice of Double Identification. Sociological Research Online, 13(4), pp. 1-16.
Census in Context: Documenting and Understanding the Making of 20th Century Canadian Censuses
Bellavance, Claude; Normand, France and Ruppert, Evelyn. 2007. Census in Context: Documenting and Understanding the Making of 20th Century Canadian Censuses. Historical Methods, 40(2), pp. 92-103. ISSN 0161-5440
Rights to Public Space: Regulatory Reconfigurations of Liberty
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2006. Rights to Public Space: Regulatory Reconfigurations of Liberty. Urban Geography, 27(3), pp. 271-292. ISSN 0272-3638
Transcending Methodological Nationalism through a Transversal Method? On the Stakes and Challenges of Collaboration
Scheel, Stephan; Cakici, Baki; Grommé, Francisca; Ruppert, Evelyn; Takala, Ville and Ustek, Funda. 2016. Transcending Methodological Nationalism through a Transversal Method? On the Stakes and Challenges of Collaboration. Working Paper. ARITHMUS Working Paper Series, London.
A Social Framework for Big Data
Ruppert, Evelyn; Harvey, Penny; Lury, Cellia; Mackenzie, Adrian; McNally, Ruth; Baker, Stephanie Alice; Kallianos, Yannis and Lewis, Camilla. 2015. A Social Framework for Big Data. Project Report. CRESC, The University of Manchester and The Open University.
Background: A Social Framework for Big Data
Ruppert, Evelyn; Harvey, Penny; Lury, Cellia; Mackenzie, Adrian; McNally, Ruth; Baker, Stephanie Alice; Kallianos, Yannis and Lewis, Camilla. 2015. Background: A Social Framework for Big Data. Project Report. CRESC, University of Manchester and The Open University.
Socialising Big Data: From concept to practice
Ruppert, Evelyn; Harvey, Penny; Lury, Cellia; Mackenzie, Adrian; McNally, Ruth; Baker, Stephanie Alice; Kallianos, Yannis and Lewis, Camilla. 2015. Socialising Big Data: From concept to practice. CRESC, The University of Manchester and The Open University.
(Un)doing collaboration: reflections on the practices of collaborative research
Ruppert, Evelyn and Encounters Collaborative, CRESC. 2013. (Un)doing collaboration: reflections on the practices of collaborative research. CRESC, University of Manchester and The Open University.
Knowing, communicating, sense making, place and urban disorder: young people and the 2011 riots
Ruppert, Evelyn; Kesten, Jamie; Murji, Karim and Neal, Sarah. 2013. Knowing, communicating, sense making, place and urban disorder: young people and the 2011 riots. CRESC.