Navigation

Evelyn Ruppert, PhD

Staff details

PositionProfessor
Department Sociology
Email e.ruppert (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7078 5125
Evelyn Ruppert, PhD

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).

Research Interests

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).

Current projects:

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?

Publications

Book

Being Digital Citizens
Ruppert, Evelyn and Isin, Engin. 2015. Being Digital Citizens. London: Rowman & Littlefield International. ISBN 978-1-78348-055-5

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

Edited Book

Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque
Law, John and Ruppert, Evelyn, eds. 2016. Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque. Manchester: Mattering Press. ISBN 978-0-9931449-8-1

Edited Journal

The Social Life of Methods: Devices
Ruppert, Evelyn and Law, John, eds. 2013. The Social Life of Methods: Devices, Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(4). 1753-0350

The Social Life of Methods: Digital Devices
Ruppert, Evelyn; Law, John and Savage, Mike, eds. 2013. The Social Life of Methods: Digital Devices, Theory, Culture & Society, 30(4). 0263-2764

Book Section

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

Category
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2012. Category. In: Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford, eds. Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge, pp. 36-47. ISBN 978-0-415-57481-5

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

Data Scientists: A New Faction of the Transnational Field of Statistics
Grommé, Francisca; Ruppert, Evelyn and Cakici, Baki. Data Scientists: A New Faction of the Transnational Field of Statistics. In: Hannah Knox and Dawn Nafus, eds. Ethnography for a Data Saturated World. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Article

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

Data Politics
Ruppert, Evelyn; Isin, Engin and Bigo, Didier. 2017. Data Politics. Big Data & Society, 2017(July), pp. 1-7. ISSN 2053-9517

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

Citizen Snowden
Isin, Engin and Ruppert, Evelyn. 2017. Citizen Snowden. International Journal of Communication, 11, pp. 843-857. ISSN 1932-8036

Who Owns Big Data
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2015. Who Owns Big Data. Discover Society(23),

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,

Methods as Devices
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2015. Methods as Devices. JCE Online,

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

Rethinking Empirical Social Sciences
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2013. Rethinking Empirical Social Sciences. Dialogues in Human Geography, 3(3), pp. 268-273.

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

The Governmental Topologies of Database Devices
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2012. The Governmental Topologies of Database Devices. Theory, Culture and Society, 29(4-5), pp. 1-21. ISSN 0263-2764

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.

Transactional Politics
Ruppert, Evelyn and Savage, Mike. 2012. Transactional Politics. The Sociological Review, 59(S2), pp. 73-92. ISSN 0038-0261

Population Objects: Interpassive Subjects
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2011. Population Objects: Interpassive Subjects. Sociology, 45(2), pp. 218-233. ISSN 1468-4446

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

Report

Body Counts: Counting Aylan Kurdi
Ruppert, Evelyn and Ustek, Funda. 2015. Body Counts: Counting Aylan Kurdi. Project Report. Visual Social Media Lab, University of Sheffield.

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.

Other

Citizen Data and Official Statistics: Background Document to a Collaborative Workshop
Grommé, Francisca; Ustek, Funda; Ruppert, Evelyn and Cakici, Baki. 2017. Citizen Data and Official Statistics: Background Document to a Collaborative Workshop. ARITHMUS Working Paper Series, London.

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. ARITHMUS Working Paper Series, London.

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.

Thinking Cities Through Objects
Carter, Simon; Dodsworth, Francis; Ruppert, Evelyn and Watson, Sophie. 2011. Thinking Cities Through Objects. CRESC.

The Double Social Life of Methods
Law, John; Ruppert, Evelyn and Savage, Mike. 2011. The Double Social Life of Methods. CRESC.

Digital Devices: Nine Theses
Law, John; Ruppert, Evelyn and Savage, Mike. 2010. Digital Devices: Nine Theses. CRESC.

Producing Population
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2007. Producing Population. CRESC.