As research around the world is pivoting in response to the new contexts and concerns that have emerged with the global Covid-19 pandemic, we are currently helping researchers navigate this change by focusing on sharing examples of projects that illustrate the uses and challenges posed by digital methods.
The Digital Social Science Cluster focuses on teaching and research in the digital social sciences.
We look at the affordances and limitations of new digital methods, research ethics, data access issues, problems related to corporate relationships, and the design and use of new tools. We also collaborate with other CDCS clusters and host local, national and international colleagues for talks and workshops. As a "methods lab" we aim to make methods, tools, datasets, and projects accessible to students and staff.
Our Future activities
We want to facilitate sharing and knowledge exchange around research methods, so we are curating a programme of speakers who will lead us through their projects, explaining their decisions and rationale, so that we can better grasp everything that goes into digital social science.
Unfortunately we have had to cancel planned seminars for April, May and June but we will begin planning and sharing again as soon as we possibly can.
A few notes on “Digital Social Science” and “Digital Methods”
For researchers who are unfamiliar with “digital social science” and “digital methods”, it may seem like an entirely new—and intimidating—realm. It’s true that digital environments offer novel types of data, and sometimes at quite a different scale. However, the basic tenets of sound research practices remain the same in digital spaces as they do in non-digital spaces. As ever, the chosen method needs to match the research question; taking access, context, and collection sources into account is crucial; understanding what your collected data actually represents is foundational; and designing (and executing) your project with a nuanced and comprehensive ethical approach is obligatory.
In many ways, there is a lot of overlap between “digital” methods and more traditional methods. For example, online interviews, digital ethnographies, and internet-based surveys rely on many of the same methodological practices and concepts as their analog counterparts. There are also a range of newer methods that allow for the exploration of digital formats and the novel forms of data that those formats generate, from apps to websites to operating systems. What is important to remember is that doing digital methods does not require fully retraining yourself in an entirely new discipline and set of methodologies: if you are a qualitative researcher by training, you do not need to (and likely should not!) immediately become an expert in social network analysis and data visualization, for example. In many ways, becoming a digital researcher means applying your already-developed research skills to digital contexts.
If your project is suddenly shifting to a digital-only context, your research question and ethical concerns very well may have to change; however, it is important to remember that “online” and “offline” has always been, and remains, a false dichotomy. People live their lives across many contexts, both digital and analog, and these different forms and contexts of interaction have varied affordances that create multiple types of data that can be triangulated to offer a fuller—if necessarily partial—picture.
MSc in Digital Society
Digital sociology provides a vital foundation for understanding how digital technologies and data are shaping our social institutions, social relations, and everyday life.
The MSc in Digital Society is intended for any student who wants to understand, as well as learn to study, analyze, and critique digital technologies and the complex ways in which they shape society, social institutions, and culture.The programme develops the theoretical and methodological skills required to address issues such as big data, algorithmic society, the future of privacy, cybercrime, and the future of work and labor.
MSc in Science and Technology in Society
Science and technology are powerful agents of change in society. But government policies, economies, cultures and values also shape the development and direction of scientific research and technological innovation.
The MSc in Science and Technology in Society examines the social, political and cultural aspects of science, technology and innovation.