Big Data: methodlogical challenges and approaches for sociological analysis

Tinati, Ramine, Halford, Susan, Carr, Les and Pope, Catherine (2013) Big Data: methodlogical challenges and approaches for sociological analysis Sociology, 48, (4), pp. 663-681. (doi:10.1177/0038038513511561).


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The emergence of Big Data is both promising and challenging for social research. This article suggests that realising this promise has been restricted by the methods applied in social science research, which undermine our potential to apprehend the qualities that make Big Data so appealing, not least in relation to the sociology of networks and flows. With specific reference to the micro-blogging website Twitter, the article outlines a set of methodological principles for approaching these data that stand in contrast to previous research; and introduces a new tool for harvesting and analysing Twitter built on these principles. We work our argument through an analysis of Twitter data linked to political protest over UK university fees. Our approach transcends earlier methodological limitations to offer original insights into the flow of information and the actors and networks that emerge in this flow.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1177/0038038513511561
ISSNs: 0038-0385 (print)
Organisations: Social Sciences
ePrint ID: 397902
Date :
Date Event
July 2013Accepted/In Press
18 February 2014e-pub ahead of print
August 2014Published
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2016 10:44
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 02:20
Further Information:Google Scholar

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