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11 JUNE 2016

Digital Sociology: Beyond the Digital to the Sociological

"Where sociologists differ from many other social researchers in researching digital media is their awareness that digital data, like any other type of data, are socially created and have a social life, a vitality, of their own. They are not the neutral products of automatic calculation, but represent deliberate decisions by those who formulate the computer algorithms that collect and manipulate these data (boyd and Crawford 2012; Cheney-Lippold 2011; Ruppert et al. 2013). The data that these devices and software produce structure our concepts of identity, embodiment, relationships, our choices and preferences and even our access to services or spaces. Without the knowledge of digital technology users, algorithms measure and sort them, deciding what choices they may be offered (Beer 2009, 2013a). Algorithms and other elements of software, therefore, are generative, a productive form of power (Lash 2007)."

(Deborah Lupton, 2013, p.4)

Deborah Lupton 'Digital Sociology: Beyond the Digital to the Sociological', Paper presented at The Australian Sociological Association 2013 Conference, Monash University, 27 November 2013.

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TAGS

2013 • algorithms • cultural concept of technologycultural practicescultural technologycultural understanding of technologyculture and societyDanah Boyd • David Beer • Deborah Lupton • digital data • digital media • digital sociology • digital technologyembodiment • Evelyn Ruppert • identity • John Cheney-Lippold • Kate Crawford • material culturemediated interactionMonash Universitynew mediaScott Lashsocial mediasocial policysocial researchsocial theorysociology • sociomateriality • software affordancestechnology practicesUniversity of Sydney

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 NOVEMBER 2014

Mapping the geography of childhood playscapes

"In 1972, the British–born geography student Roger Hart settled on an unusual project for his dissertation. He moved to a rural New England town and, for two years, tracked the movements of 86 children in the local elementary school, to create what he called a 'geography of children,' including actual maps that would show where and how far the children typically roamed away from home. Usually research on children is conducted by interviewing parents, but Hart decided he would go straight to the source. The principal of the school lent him a room, which became known as 'Roger's room,' and he slowly got to know the children. Hart asked them questions about where they went each day and how they felt about those places, but mostly he just wandered around with them. Even now, as a father and a settled academic, Hart has a dreamy, puckish air. Children were comfortable with him and loved to share their moments of pride, their secrets. Often they took him to places adults had never seen before–playhouses or forts the kids had made just for themselves.

Hart's methodology was novel, but he didn't think he was recording anything radical. Many of his observations must have seemed mundane at the time. For example: 'I was struck by the large amount of time children spend modifying the landscape in order to make places for themselves and for their play.' But reading his dissertation today feels like coming upon a lost civilization, a child culture with its own ways of playing and thinking and feeling that seems utterly foreign now. The children spent immense amounts of time on their own, creating imaginary landscapes their parents sometimes knew nothing about. The parents played no role in their coming together–'it is through cycling around that the older boys chance to fall into games with each other,' Hart observed. The forts they built were not praised and cooed over by their parents, because their parents almost never saw them.

Through his maps, Hart discovered broad patterns: between second and third grade, for instance, the children's 'free range'–the distance they were allowed to travel away from home without checking in first–tended to expand significantly, because they were permitted to ride bikes alone to a friend's house or to a ball field. By fifth grade, the boys especially gained a 'dramatic new freedom' and could go pretty much wherever they wanted without checking in at all. (The girls were more restricted because they often helped their mothers with chores or errands, or stayed behind to look after younger siblings.) To the children, each little addition to their free range–being allowed to cross a paved road, or go to the center of town–was a sign of growing up. The kids took special pride, Hart noted, in 'knowing how to get places,' and in finding shortcuts that adults wouldn't normally use."

(Hanna Rosin, April 2014, The Atlantic)

Roger Hart (1979). "Children's Experience of Place", Irvington.

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TAGS

1972 • ad-hoc geographies • alone but not lonely • being allowed • childhood agency • creating imaginary landscapes • dissertation project • elementary school • environmental psychology • environments for children • fifth grade • free range playgrowing upHanna Rosin • how children learn • how children play • kid-oriented experienceslearning by doing • making places • modifying landscape • New England • observation (data collection) • open spacesopen-ended play spaces • overprotection • patterns of usepersonal autonomypersonal freedompersonal responsibility • places for children • play fort • playhouses • playscapes • riding bikes • risk-taking • Roger Hart • route mapscriptible spaces • second grade • smooth phenomenal spacesocial constructionismsocial geographysocial researchspaces for childrenthird gradeurban mapping

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 SEPTEMBER 2013

The Mass Observation Archive: a UK social history writing project

"The Mass Observation Project (MOP) is a unique UK–based writing project which has been running since 1981. ... [it] differs from other similar social investigations because of its historical link to the original Mass Observation and because of its focus is on voluntary, self–motivated participation. It revives the early Mass Observation notion that everyone can participate in creating their own history or social science. The Mass Observers do not constitute a statistically representative sample of the population but can be seen as reporters or 'citizen journalists' who provide a window on their worlds.

The material is solicited in response to 'directives' or open–ended questions sent to them by post or email three times a year. The directives contain two or three broad themes which cover both very personal issues and wider political and social issues and events.

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TAGS

1937198120th century21st century • Charles Madge • citizen journalismconfessioncultural heritagediagramdiary • directives • drawingseventseveryday lifehistorical archiveshistorical chronicles • Humphrey Jennings • letterslistlongitudinal studymapMass Observation Project (MOP)material culture • memoir • open-ended questionsopinion • ordinary people • personal experiencephotographsplacespolitical issuesposterity • press cutting • qualitative researchresearch resourcesself knowledge • self-identity • self-revelationsocial historysocial issuessocial researchstatistically representative samplestoriessubjectivitytheir storiesthematic patterns • Tom Harrisson • UK • University of Sussex • voluntary participationwriting project

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
09 DECEMBER 2012

IAMAS 情報科学芸術大学院大学 / Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences

"Cultivating new media creators in a variety of fields IAMAS was opened in 2001 both as a hub for training new creators in an information society, and as an educational institution that fuses together advanced technology and artistic creativity to produce new culture. Since then IAMAS has graduated a large number of information technology specialists who are active in the broad field of media culture and industry, garnering high praise not just in Japan, but internationally as well. The school's activities cover many disciplines and offer new possibilities to industry. These activities include interaction design and media products that lead to collaboration with industry, media art that constantly explores new methods of expression, social research and design, as well as new publishing ideas. All of these endeavors exemplify the spirit of pioneering into new fields. The Department of Media Creation at IAMAS is a place where people with the desire to create something new are able to meet, collaborate, and challenge each other."

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TAGS

2001 • advanced technology • art and designcreative industry • diverse faculty • education and research • hands-on facilities • IAMAS • IAMAS Media Lab • industry collaboration • information society • information technology specialists • innovative media • Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences • interaction designinterdisciplinary thinkingJapan • joint research • media art • media culture industry • new culture • new fields • new methods of expression • new publishing • prototyping lab • research and design • social research • Softopia Japan • software development • The Department of Media Creation • the future of society • unique curriculum • visual studio

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
31 MAY 2011

Majority of contemporary practice-based design PhDs use methodological bricolage

"A recent analysis of doctorates in design has identified four common characteristics of research approaches found in the exploration of practice–based design research questions [1]. They are: 1) a 'bricolage' approach to research design, 2) reflective practices, 3) the use of visual approaches and 4) thesis–structural innovation. These characteristics have been derived from an examination of a range of design theses and using a number of design research frameworks [2–4] to identify the epistemological and methodological models applied. This paper has chosen to focus on one of the four characteristics, the bricolage approach to method construction, as it is seen to be a common feature evident in all six studies. The bricolage method consists of combining methods from the social sciences, humanities, and hard sciences to derive a suitable model of inquiry.

While we acknowledge that design research investigates different issues that require studies into a range of subject areas such as the material, historical, scientific, social and psychological, the focus of this paper is the exploration of research questions derived from practice–based questions. In other words, it focuses on design activities that are used to generate new knowledge and understanding in and of itself.

We posit that the adoption of methodological bricolage is a necessity in design research due to the indeterminate nature of design. ...

Although Levi–Strauss introduced the concept of bricolage as a mode of acquiring knowledge, it was Denzin and Lincoln's [23] articulation of it within a methodological context that offered insight into new forms of rigour and complexity in social research. Nelson, Treichler and Grossberg describe bricolage (in the context of cultural studies methodology) as reflecting a choice of practice that is pragmatic, strategic and self–reflexive [24]. While Kincheloe [25] uses the term to describe multi–perspectival research methods, not just as the usage of mixed methods but to acknowledge that using methods from different disciplines enables the researcher to compare and contrast multiple points of view. Just as designed objects have prescribed affordances, methods automatically imply ontological and epistemological affordances. This relationship between inquiry and method affords design a useful indeterminacy, where not–knowing becomes a constructive loop that the bricoleur appears to be exploiting. As questions arise so methods to answer them are sought, abstracting platforms for design knowledge rather than concrete answers. Bricolage is a useful and necessary concept for design researchers as it allows them to deploy available and established strategies and methods, but also grants them the license to create new tools and techniques in order to address questions that are beyond the realm of the established discipline. Methodological bricolage permits the researcher to look at the problem we have with problems, as well as their solution. The bricoleur views research methods actively, rather than passively, meaning that the researcher actively constructs methods with tools at hand rather than accepting and using pre–existing methodologies [26]."

(Joyce S R Yee and Craig Bremner, 2011)

Fig.1 Danae Colomer, Gazpacho video portion of Food as Opera project.

2). Yee, J. S. R. and C. Bremner (2011). Methodological Bricolage – What does it tell us about Design? Doctoral Education in Design Conference. Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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TAGS

abstract knowledge • abstracting platforms for design knowledge • academic norm • academic studies • anthropological sense • bricolage • bricolage approach • bricolage method • bricoleur • Cary Nelson • case studiesClaude Levi-Strauss • complexity in social research • concrete answers • concrete knowledge • constructive loop • creative fiddler • creative tinkerer • cultural studies methodologydesign discipline • design PhDs • design researchdesign research approachesdesign researcherdesignerdisciplinary knowledge • doctoral studies • engineer • epistemological affordances • established research methodologies • established research methodsestablished research strategies • Joe Kincheloe • Lawrence Grossberg • making-do • methodological bricolage • methodological contextmethodologiesmixed methodsmodel of enquiry • modes of acquiring knowledge • multi-perspectival research methods • multiperspectival • multiple points of view • new forms of rigour • new objects • new tools and techniques • Norman Denzin • not-knowing • ontological affordances • Paula Treichler • PhDPhD supervision • pick and mix • practice-based • practice-based design PhDs • practice-based researchresearch designresearch methodsresearch modelresearcher • Savage Mind • select and apply • social research • spontaneous creative act • the scientific mind • tools at hand • useful indeterminacy • whatever is available • Yvonna Lincoln

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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