Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.681937
Title: Decentring devices : developing quali-quantitative techniques for studying controversies with online platforms
Author: Moats, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 3989
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Abstract:
This thesis considers the role of online platforms (Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in digital social research from a Science and Technology Studies (STS) perspective and proposes new conceptual, methodological and visual tactics, drawing on a series of empirical case studies concerning controversies over nuclear power. Recent work in STS seeks to map science controversies (GM foods, nanotechnology, climate change, etc. Venturini 2010) using digital tools, which repurpose online platforms for social research (Rogers 2009). Yet these platforms not only provide data about controversies, they may also intervene in them as well andI propose that this requires studying them ‘in action’, drawing on the techniques of controversy analysis (Latour 1987) and actor-network theory (ANT). However, this research presents several challenges. How to delineate a study when controversies transcend particular platforms? How to define what is relevant when these platforms have their own relevance-defining metrics? How to track information flows within or between platforms? The central argument of this thesis is that while researchers should capitalise on the affordances of these platforms, they must diverge from them as well. Theoretically, this means maintaining a tension between studying controversies and studying the platforms themselves. Methodologically this means decoupling methods from platform data structures: scraping less obvious data, juxtaposing quantitative and qualitative traces and presenting data in novel ways. Over three case studies, I will develop a series of mapping techniques for analysing controversies which qualify the quantitative and make the less calculable more calculable, revealing imbalances in the articulation and dissemination of controversies online which would remain hidden to platform-specific or qualitative approaches on their own. These exploratory techniques, which draw on work in the sociology of scientific representations (Woolgar and Lynch 1992), have implications for debates about big data, digital sociology, media studies and the relationship between quantitative and qualitative methods.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.681937  DOI: Not available
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