Vast amounts of digital data are now generated daily by people as they go about their lives, yet social researchers are struggling to exploit it. At the same time, the challenges faced by society in the 21st century are growing ever more complex, and demands research that is bigger in scale, more collaborative and multi-disciplinary than ever before. This cutting-edge volume provides an accessible introduction to innovative digital social research tools and methods that harness this ‘data deluge’ and successfully tackle key research challenges. Contributions from leading international researchers cover topics such as: • Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research • Data management • Social media and social network analysis • Modeling and simulation • Survey methods • Visualizing social data • Ethics and e-research • The future of social research in the digital age This vibrant introduction to innovative digital research methods is essential reading for anyone conducting social research today.
Chapter 2: The Changing Social Science Data Landscape
The Changing Social Science Data Landscape
2.1.1 The Age of Data
More than a century since the ground-breaking social surveys of Booth in London 1 and Rowntree in York in the UK, and the subsequent development of mass observation methods in the 1930s, we are now in an age of almost overwhelming volumes of data about many people’s attitudes, circumstances and behaviour. Such data extends from people’s views to images of them, their locations and movements, and their communications. The data is very diverse; it includes lifelong health and prescription records, genetic biomarker profiles and family histories, satellite images, digital passports and their use, databases from product warranty forms, consumption transactions, online browsing records, email and web communications, social media, and mobile ...