This talk will explore a number of key issues in Big Data, Web Science, and Sociology today.
Reflections on Big Data: methodological challenges for sociological analysis and the promise of Web Science
with Susan Halford, Ramine Tinati, Leslie Carr, and Catherine Pope (all of the University of Southampton Web Science Institute)
The emergence of 'big data' is rapidly becoming one of the defining hallmarks of the 21st Century. Following earlier observations about the emergent dominance of 'information' in the evolution of contemporary Western societies, the scale and pace of recent digital data accumulation have outstripped all expectations. Whilst this may demand a theoretical step-change in sociological approaches to the world around us it also raises some questions about if and how sociologists might engage with big data itself. Social media data - for instance - now offer extensive and detailed insight into the everyday lives and networks of millions, as these evolve in real time, and over time. In this paper, we argue that - to date - our capacity to work with these data has been restricted by sociological methods which fail to apprehend the qualities that make big data so appealling. In response, we demonstrate the value of engaging with computational science and associated techniques of big data analysis. At the same time we insist that the epistemological, methodological and theoretical rigour of sociological approaches must be embedded to temper these methods and inform data interpretations. This raises some broader questions regarding the politics of discipline in the era of big data and the possibilitites - or otherwise - of interdisciplinary collaboration.
Susan Halford is Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at the University of Southampton. Arising from long-standing interests in digital innovation at work, she has recently been working with the RCUK Web Science Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Southampton, where she is involved in several projects exploring a range of substantive and methodological issues concerning the Web and Web data.
Leslie Carr is Professor of Web Science, in the Faculty of Physical and Applied Science, University of Southampton and Director of the RCUK Web Science Doctoral Training Centre.
Ramine Tinati is post-doctoral research fellow in Computer Science, University of Southampton. His research aims to develop a sociotechnical understanding of how the Web grows, taking open government data as an example worked through Actor-Network Theory and Network Science Techniques. He also works closely with the Web Observatory, University of Southampton, and is developing new tools for cross-disciplinary engagement with Web data.
Catherine Pope is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton. Her current research includes studies of the everyday use of computer decision support systems in healthcare, most recently looking at their use in the NHS 111 service. She also works closely with the RCUK Southampton Web Science Doctoral Training Centre supervising postgraduate students and researching emerging and innovative uses of the Web.
Dates & times
|16 Oct 2014||12:00pm - 1:00pm|
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