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Situational analytics: Why social research must become inventive in a digital age

With Noortje Marres
18 Oct 2018
With Noortje Marres
Filming venue:

Oxford Internet Institute, 1 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3JS

It has been argued that digital data and data tools enable new ways of reconciling foundational oppositions in social research, including those between content and context, abstraction and experience, trend and situation. This argument tends to involve the claim that automat-able data analysis now makes possible the empirical specification of contexts in ways that were previously understood to require ethnographic presence “in the field.” This talk will discuss an on-going study of a digitally native phenomenon – user-led technology testing on Youtube – to argue that such claims to methodological innovation suffer from an important blind spot. As a consequence of digital transformations, social life is today at risk of losing its ‘aboutness’: the situational specificity on which both qualitative and quantitative research have previously relied to secure the coherence of their empirical object.



Noortje Marres

Associate Professor and Research Director, Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick