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Towards a Sociology of Data

With Professor Ralph Schroeder, Professor Eric T. Meyer, Dr Linnet E. M. Taylor, and Dr Mark Elliot
Date & Time:
12:00 - 17:00,
Friday 11 January, 2013


The Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, in collaboration with the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research at the University of Manchester, the Sloan Foundation and the Digital Social Research directorate of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will be holding a one-day workshop on 11 January 2013 for researchers interested in questions regarding social science data.

Agenda-Setting Questions

  • Our Data Our Selves: How does data impact on how we view our selves, our identity, our society? How do our attitudes affect how we view data? How do new forms of (ubiquitous) data impact on a norms, attitudes and values? Is informational privacy the main contact point between our digital and socio-physical identities?
  • Our Data Our Society: How do the control processes for data reflect and affect existing social structures? How are data shaped by the institutions and objectives that produce them? Where are the main sources (private sector, government, third sector) of data outside the academy?
  • Our Data Our Research: Are social scientists becoming more reliant on data that has not been gathered for sociological research purposes? How do we define ‘data’ in the social sciences? Can a typology be developed? Where are data now providing new departures in the social sciences? Where are data becoming ‘big data’? Are these transformative, or ‘old wine in new bottles’? What are ‘small’ data?

Application Procedure

Please send an application to by 15 December 2012 indicating you are interested in the workshop “Towards a Sociology of Data.” Your application should include your name and contact information, plus we are asking participants to provide a short position statement in relation to the three sets of questions above (approximately 300-500 word) that we will circulate before the meeting. If you are requesting travel funds, also please include a brief annotated budget.

This workshop is part of a project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to understand how big data are being accessed and used to create new knowledge about the social world. Additional funding has been provided by the Digital Social Research Directorate of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to support participant travel.

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