T10P06 - Digital Methods for Public Policy

Topic : Methodologies

Panel Chair : Gray Jonathan - j.gray@bath.ac.uk

Panel Second Chair : Nicholas Pearce - n.pearce@bath.ac.uk

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

The past few decades have seen an explosion in “born digital” data – including from social media services and online platforms, smart phones, digital devices and the web. These sources of data open up new avenues for the study for social and political phenomena (Savage & Burrows, 2007; Lazer et al., 2009). This panel will examine the potential implications of a shift from “digitized” to “born digital” data and methods (Rogers, 2014). This methodological shift from a focus on polls, surveys and interviews to repurposing digital traces and big data is accompanied by a corresponding shift in ways of studying and thinking about of social life.
Drawing on research in digital sociology, media studies, communication studies and Science and Technology Studies, this panel will look at how “born digital” data has and can be used in the context of public policy. In particular, it will address questions such as: How might emerging sources of digital data be repurposed to inform policy research and practice? What kinds of capacities are required for researchers, policymakers and public institutions to take advantage of these developments? What are the consequences of the growing use of born digital data for public policy-making?

The digital methods agenda has been developed in order to repurpose “born digital” data for the purpose of social, cultural and political research. The past decade has seen the development of tools and methods for using digital data from a wide variety of media – including search engines, social media and sharing platforms. These have been applied to study societal issues from migration and food safety to urban planning, illness and ageing (Rogers, 2013; Rogers, Sánchez-Querubín, & Kil, 2015). The panel aims to open up space for engagements between digital methods and public policy research - including showcasing and discussing the contribution of new digital tools, methods and born digital data in public policy research, as well as advancing methodological and theoretical reflection on their growing availability and use.

References
Lazer, D., Pentland, A., Adamic, L., Aral, S., Barabási, A.-L., Brewer, D., … Alstyne, M. V. (2009). Computational Social Science. Science, 323(5915), 721–723. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.1167742

Rogers, R. (2013). Digital Methods. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rogers, R. (2014). Political Research in the Digital Age. International Public Policy Review, 8(1), 73–87.

Rogers, R., Sánchez-Querubín, N., & Kil, A. (2015). Issue Mapping for an Ageing Europe. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.

Savage, M., & Burrows, R. (2007). The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology. Sociology, 41(5), 885–899. http://doi.org/10.1177/0038038507080443

 

Call for papers

The past few decades have seen an explosion in “born digital” data – including from social media services and online platforms, smart phones, digital devices and the web. These sources of data open up new avenues for the study for social and political phenomena (Savage & Burrows, 2007; Lazer et al., 2009). This panel will examine the potential implications of a shift from “digitized” to “born digital” data and methods (Rogers, 2014). This methodological shift from a focus on polls, surveys and interviews to repurposing digital traces and big data is accompanied by a corresponding shift in ways of studying and thinking about of social life.
Drawing on research in digital sociology, media studies, communication studies and Science and Technology Studies, this panel will look at how “born digital” data is and can be used in the context of public policy.
This panel aims to open up space for engagements between digital methods and public policy research - including showcasing and discussing the contribution of new digital tools, methods and born digital data in public policy research, as well as advancing methodological and theoretical reflection on their growing availability and use. We welcome contributions on topics such as:
 - Examples of the use of digital tools, methods and data in public policy research

 - Opportunities and challenges around the use of “born digital” data in policy research

 - Reflection on the use and availability of digital methods, tools and data in policy

 - Shifts from digitised data (e.g. statistics) to born digital data (e.g. web and social media data)

 - The politics of digital tools, data and methods and their role in policy research and practice

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