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Facing Big Data: Methods and skills needed for a 21st century sociology

English title Facing Big Data: Methods and skills needed for a 21st century sociology
Applicant Mützel Sophie
Number 167214
Funding scheme NRP 75 Big Data
Research institution Soziologisches Seminar Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät Universität Luzern
Institution of higher education University of Lucerne - LU
Main discipline Sociology
Start/End 01.01.2017 - 30.04.2021
Approved amount 687'895.00
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Keywords (5)

sociology; social science research methods; data journalism; data science; Big Data

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Bislang gibt es in der Methodenausbildung der deutschsprachigen Soziologie wenig bis keinen Umgang mit Big Data, obwohl die Soziologie bei der Auswertung von Big Data wichtige Beiträge leisten kann. Dieses Projekt untersucht, inwieweit sich der soziologische Werkzeugkasten sinnvoll erweitern lässt, wenn Methoden, Instrumente und Kompetenzen der Soziologie, der Datenwissenschaften und des Datenjournalismus miteinander verknüpft werden.
Lay summary

Im Zentrum des Projekts steht die Untersuchung der Felder Soziologie, Datenwissenschaften und Datenjournalismus. In drei Unterprojekten werden Lehrinhalte und Ausbildungsgänge im Hinblick auf Methoden, Kompetenzen und Instrumente sowie berufliche Perspektiven untersucht. Mögliche Überschneidungen der einzelnen Felder sollen verdeutlichen, wie der soziologische Werkzeugkasten erweitert werden kann und wie andere datenanalytische Felder von soziologischen Einsichten profitieren können. Die Untersuchung verbindet wissenschafts- und professionssoziologische Erkenntnisse mit organisationssoziologischen Ansätzen zur Entstehung neuer Felder. Bei der Untersuchung der drei Felder kommen neben den klassischen Methoden der Soziologie auch neuere Verfahren, z.B. für die Analyse von grossen Textdatenmengen, zum Einsatz.

Big Data – grosse, meist unstrukturierte Datenmengen zu verschiedensten sozialen Phänomenen – birgt Herausforderungen, aber auch Chancen für die soziologische Analyse der sozialen Welt. Grundsätzlich sind Soziologen bestens für solche Analysen vorbereitet, da sie theoretische Konzepte mit empirischer Evidenz verknüpfen können. Doch die klassischerweise genutzten Methoden der Soziologie sind für andere Daten entwickelt (z.B. repräsentative Stichproben, Interviews) und eignen sich weniger gut für die Analyse von Big Data als die Methoden neuer Felder wie der Datenwissenschaften und des Datenjournalismus.

Das Projekt identifiziert Überschneidungen zwischen Soziologie, Datenwissenschaften und Datenjournalismus. Aufgrund von systematischen Untersuchungen entwickelt das Projekt Empfehlungen für einen erweiterten Werkzeugkasten. Die identifizierten Werkzeuge sollen Soziologinnen und Soziologen neue Chancen auf dem Arbeitsmarkt eröffnen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.07.2017

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les sociologues devraient, en principe, contribuer dans une grande mesure aux analyses Big Data du monde social. La formation méthodologique de la plupart des sociologues de l’espace germanophone n’est toutefois pas adéquate pour traiter des mégadonnées. Ce projet cherche à savoir comment combiner les méthodes, les outils et les compétences des champs de la sociologie, de la science des données et du journalisme de données pour améliorer la panoplie des outils sociologiques.
Lay summary

Le projet se concentre sur une analyse approfondie des champs de la sociologie, de la science des données et du journalisme de données. Dans le cadre de trois sous-projets, nous examinons les méthodes, compétences et outils de chaque champ, avec une référence spécifique au Big Data. Nous étudions aussi l’état actuel des cursus et des formations de chaque domaine et leur répercussion sur les perspectives de carrière. Enfin, nous mettons en évidence des zones qui se recoupent et qui sont susceptibles d’être utilisées pour faire progresser la sociologie. Le projet rassemble des connaissances de la sociologie des sciences, de la sociologie des professions et de l’émergence de nouveaux champs organisationnels. La recherche dans les trois champs combine également des méthodes traditionnelles des sciences sociales avec de nouvelles méthodes computationnelles.

L’augmentation des mégadonnées –nombreuses, diverses, souvent peu structurées et qui concernent tout un éventail de phénomènes – représente de nouveaux défis et offre de nouvelles opportunités pour les sciences sociales dans l’analyse et l’explication de la gamme complète des interactions sociales. Leur formation consistant à lier concepts théoriques et observations empiriques, les sociologues devraient être bien équipés pour de telles analyses. Mais leurs méthodes sont conçues pour des données et des paramètres différents (par ex. des échantillons représentatifs, des interviews) et sont moins adaptées aux mégadonnées que celles qu’utilisent la science des données et le journalisme des données.

Le projet a pour objectif de mettre en évidence des secteurs où la sociologie, la science des données et le journalisme de données se recoupent et à les utiliser pour faire progresser la sociologie. Le projet cherchera aussi à savoir quels aspects de la sociologie pourraient contribuer à d’autres domaines d’analyse des données.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.07.2017

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
In principle, sociologists should have much to contribute to Big Data analyses of the social world. Yet the methods training of most German-speaking sociologists is inadequate to deal with Big Data. This project investigates how methods, tools and skills drawn from the fields of sociology, data science and data journalism can be combined to enhance the sociological tool kit.
Lay summary

The project focuses on close analysis of the fields of sociology, data science and data journalism. In three subprojects, we examine the methods, skills and tools of each field, with specific reference to Big Data. We also review the current state of curricula and training in each area, and how that translates into career prospects. Finally, we indicate areas of overlap that might productively be used to bring science forward. The project recombines insights from the sociology of science, the sociology of professions and the emergence of organizational fields. The inquiry into the three fields also combines traditional social science methods with novel computational methods.

The rise of Big Data – data that are large, diverse, often unstructured and concern an array of phenomena – poses new challenges and opportunities for the social sciences in analysing and explaining the full gamut of social interactions. Given their training in linking theoretical concepts with empirical observations, sociologists should be primed for such analyses. But the methods they use are designed for different data and settings (e.g. representative samples, interviews) and are less suited to Big Data than those used in new fields such as data science and data journalism.

The project aims to indicate areas of overlap between sociology, data science and data journalism that might productively be used to bring sociological science forward. The project will also explore which aspects of sociology could contribute to other fields of data analysis. Based on this systematic comparison, we will formulate recommendations for how to expand tool kits. The aim of the new tool kits is to enhance social scientists’ employability and to increase data scientists’ and data journalists’ sensitivities for the construction and categorization of data.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.07.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Envisioning Higher Education. How Imagining the Future Shapes the Implementation of a New Field in Higher Education
Saner Philippe (2019), Envisioning Higher Education. How Imagining the Future Shapes the Implementation of a New Field in Higher Education, in Swiss Journal of Sociology, 45(3), 359-381.
Schöne Daten! Konstruktion und Verarbeitung von digitalen Daten
Mützel Sophie, Saner Philippe, Unternährer Markus (2018), Schöne Daten! Konstruktion und Verarbeitung von digitalen Daten, in Houben Daniel, Prantl Bianca (ed.), transcript, Bielefeld, 111-132.

Datasets

Collection of Data Science Job Advertisements 2017 - 2019

Author Saner, Philippe; Mützel, Sophie
Publication date 18.02.2021
Persistent Identifier (PID) https://doi.org/10.23662/FORS-DS-1254-1
Repository FORSbase
Abstract
The dataset contains job advertisements for data scientists published on a Swiss job portal between January 2017 and June 2019. The sample comprises N = 4341 job advertisements. The job advertisements (including job titles) are written in English, German, French and Italian (in order of frequency). The variables of the data file are in English.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Conference of the Swiss Association for the Studies of Science, Technology & Society (STS-CH) Talk given at a conference Digital Strategies in Swiss Higher Education Policies and Institutions 17.02.2021 Lausanne, Switzerland Saner Philippe;
Media Practice Theory, Sonderforschungsbereichs (SFB) 1187 „Medien der Kooperation“, Universität Siegen Individual talk Facing Big Data: Some challenges of large-scale textual analyses for sociologists 25.01.2021 Siegen, Germany Mützel Sophie;
Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and Agency of STS in Emerging Worlds. EASST & 4S Joint Conference Talk given at a conference A message that becomes apparent immediately - when uncertainty is opposed to becoming evident 18.08.2020 Prag, Czech Republic Estermann Rahel;
Opening event of Research Group on Multimodal Rhetoric in Online Communication, Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, Universität Bielefeld Talk given at a conference Culture across cultures 19.05.2020 Bielefeld, Germany Mützel Sophie;
Vortragsreihe Digitalisierung aus soziologischer Perspektive, Fakultät Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Universität Bamberg Individual talk Soziologische Perspektiven auf algorithmische Realitäten 13.01.2020 Bamberg, Germany Mützel Sophie;
Forschungskolloquium Soziologie, Universität Luzern Individual talk Das Soziale mit und durch Daten sehen. Konstruktionen von Datenkompetenz als Grundlage für 'Digitalisierung' 17.12.2019 Luzern, Switzerland Saner Philippe;
Herbsttagung der Sektion Organisationssoziologie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS) Talk given at a conference Coleman 2.0 - Überlegungen zur asymmetrischen Gesellschaft im 21. Jahrhundert 05.12.2019 Luzern, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
LUMACSS launch event Talk given at a conference A few reflections on sociological research in the digital age 11.11.2019 Luzern, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
Tagung der Sektion Medien- und Kommunikationssoziologie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie Talk given at a conference "Ausreisser sind immer spannend" - Datenvisualisierungen als Methode der Erkenntnisproduktion und -vermittlung im Journalismus 11.10.2019 Giessen, Germany Estermann Rahel;
Kongress der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Soziologie Talk given at a conference Zur Konstruktion soziologischer Methoden-Kategorien in der Lehre 28.09.2019 Salzburg, Austria Kressin Lisa;
Digital Societies. Congress of the Academy for Sociology Talk given at a conference Sociological resarch in the digital age: analytical and methodological challenges and opportunities 25.09.2019 Konstanz, Germany Mützel Sophie;
Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association Talk given at a conference Das Soziale mit und durch Daten sehen. Konstruktionen von Datenkompetenz als Grundlage für Digitalisierung als gesellschaftliches Transformationsprojekt 11.09.2019 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Saner Philippe;
14th Conference of the European Sociological Association Talk given at a conference If Emotions Were Honored. Experiencing Methods and their boundaries 22.08.2019 Manchester, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kressin Lisa;
14th Conference of the European Sociological Association Talk given at a conference Opening a Space between Fields. How Actors in Politics, Industry, and Higher Education Shape an Emerging Field of Knowledge 22.08.2019 Manchester, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Saner Philippe;
Second Symposium: Ethical and Legal Issues in Big Data Research, Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel Talk given at a conference Facing Big Data 19.06.2019 Basel, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
Workshop Critical Data Science, 13th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-19) Talk given at a conference Data Science as a Political Space 11.06.2019 München, Germany Saner Philippe;
Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA 2019) Talk given at a conference Bringing Back Order Into Hybrid Journalism: Institutional Logics as Means of Journalistic Sense-Making 27.05.2019 Washington, D.C., United States of America Estermann Rahel;
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Simplicity and Complexity in Scientific Knowledge and Practices, Epistemology of the LHC Talk given at a conference Sociology’s multivocality. Strategies of dissecting and embracing complexity 22.05.2019 Bonn, Germany Kressin Lisa;
Workshop Daten - Praktiken - Professionen Talk given at a conference Mit den Daten sprechen: Visualisierungswerkzeuge als Grammatik des Datenjournalismus 25.04.2019 Luzern, Switzerland Estermann Rahel;
15th Workshop on New Institutionalism in Organization Theory Talk given at a conference How tools organize storytelling 16.03.2019 Uppsala, Sweden Estermann Rahel;
2. Workshop des Arbeitskreises Digitalisierung und Organisation der Sektion Organisationssoziologie der DGS Talk given at a conference Wie Tools datenjournalistisches Geschichtenerzählen organisieren 22.02.2019 Berlin, Germany Estermann Rahel;
Workshop Digitale Werkzeuge in der Quellenarbeit, ETH Zürich Talk given at a conference Facing Big Data. Methods and Skills Needed for a 21st Century Sociology 14.02.2019 Zürich, Switzerland Estermann Rahel;
CAS Big Data Analytics Individual talk Big Data & Soziologie 01.02.2019 Rotkreu, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
Applied Machine Learning Days Talk given at a conference ML and some of its effects on the social 29.01.2019 Lausanne, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
Research Network Sociology of Education of the Swiss Sociological Association Talk given at a conference Higher education in the digital age. How political, economic and educational actors shape the implementation of a new field in higher education 08.11.2018 Lausanne, Switzerland Saner Philippe;
Congress of the German Sociological Association Talk given at a conference Texte als Daten für die Soziologie: Einblicke in globale Herausforderungen 26.09.2018 Göttingen, Germany Mützel Sophie;
Annual Congress of the Swiss Society for Educational Research and the Swiss Society for Teacher Training Talk given at a conference Higher education in the digital age. How political, economic and educational actors co-construct skills in an emerging field of knowledge 29.06.2018 Zurich, Switzerland Saner Philippe;
GCDH Evening Lecture Individual talk Facing Big Data: methodological and analytical challenges and opportunities for sociology 21.06.2018 Göttingen, Germany Mützel Sophie;
3rd meeting of the DFG-Network on "The sociology of sociological knowledge" Talk given at a conference Facing Big Data: methodological and analytical challenges and opportunities 01.06.2018 Osnabrück, Germany Mützel Sophie;
We are on a mission". Exploring the role of future imaginaries in the making and governing of digital technology Talk given at a conference he Future in Education. Exploring the Role of Skills and Methods in Political and Economic Scenarios of the Future 27.04.2018 Berlin, Germany Saner Philippe;
Workshop "Masse statt Klasse?", Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel Talk given at a conference Texte als 'historische Massendaten' - alte Quellen neu schürfen mithilfe computergestützter Textanalyse 15.02.2018 Kiel, Germany Mützel Sophie; Kressin Lisa;
Talk at Research Seminar, Institute of Analytical Sociology, Linköping University Individual talk Facing Big Data: Methodological and analytical challenges and opportunities of large-scale textual analyses 09.02.2018 Norrköping, Sweden Mützel Sophie;
Forschungskolloquium Allgemeine Soziologie/ Kultursoziologie und Makrosoziologie, Universität Konstanz Individual talk Big Data und die Soziologie. Methodische und analytische Chancen und Herausforderungen 12.12.2017 Konstanz, Germany Mützel Sophie;
Contemporary Debates, Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel Individual talk On Big Data: methodological and analytical challenges for sociology 07.11.2017 Basel, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
Speaker series at the IPMZ, University of Zurich Individual talk On the relevance of algorithms 30.10.2017 Zürich, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
Herbsttagung der Sektion Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie Talk given at a conference Data Science als Grenzüberschreitung? Markierungen und Grenzziehungen an der Schnittstelle des wissenschaftlichen und des ökonomischen Feldes 05.10.2017 Bonn, Germany Saner Philippe;
Herbsttagung der Sektion Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie Talk given at a conference Big Data als Zerreißprobe für die multiparadigmatische Soziologie? 05.10.2017 Bonn, Germany Kressin Lisa;
Diskurse Digital, DFG Netzwerktreffen Individual talk Das Digitale: Neue Chancen und Herausforderungen für die Soziologie 15.06.2017 Zürich, Switzerland Mützel Sophie;
"Society through the lens of the digital", Herrenhausen Conference Poster Doing Big Data. Methods and skills in the emerging field of data science 31.05.2017 Hannover, Germany Saner Philippe;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Panel “Digital Transformation of/in Research and Higher Education”, Conference of the Swiss Association for the Studies of Science, Technology & Society (STS-CH) 17.02.2021 Lausanne, Switzerland
Women in Computational Social Science 12.11.2020 Luzern, Switzerland
Workshop on Computational Text Analysis in the Social Sciences, Institute for Analytical Sociology, University of Linköping, Sweden 19.10.2019 Norrköping, Sweden
Women in Big Data 14.06.2018 Zurich, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Zur Relevanz von Algorithmen Talk 17.01.2018 Berlin, Germany Mützel Sophie;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) «Bi de Lüüt» #3: Rahel Estermann SRF Digital Podcast German-speaking Switzerland 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Die Entstehung von Data Science als interdisziplinäres Feld Big Data-Dialog International 2020
Talks/events/exhibitions Facing Big Data: Methoden und Kompetenzen im Datenjournalismus German-speaking Switzerland 2019
Talks/events/exhibitions Cafe Scientifique Basel: Zur digitalen Ökonomie German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2018
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Der Umgang mit Big Data: Methoden für eine Soziologie des 21. Jahrhunderts Big Data-Dialog International 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Digitalisierung: Das geht uns alle etwas an Luzerner Zeitung German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Talks/events/exhibitions KKL Impulse: Mein Smartphone und ich German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Methodische Herausforderungen bei der Nutzung von Big Data International German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Big Data: Wie birgt man das "Öl der Zukunft"? Luzerner Rundschau German-speaking Switzerland 2017

Abstract

The rise of Big Data - data that are large, diverse, often unstructured, and concern an array of phenomena - poses new challenges as well as opportunities to the social sciences and their claim to empirically analyze and explain the social world. While commercial and administrative use of Big Data is currently creating new professions of “data scientists” and “data journalists”, sociologists are much slower in joining research using Big Data in their analyses. Yet sociologists are primed to participate in Big Data analyses because of their training linking theoretical concepts with empirical observations about the social world. This peculiar disjuncture is the starting point of this project. The project contends that Big Data makes changes in methodological training necessary. In order to cope with the pending “crisis of empirical sociology”, sociological methods training needs to become part of the “digital enlightenment” necessary to analyze and interpret such types of Big Data. The goal of the project then is to empirically examine the current state of methods and tools used in training and in practice in three data analytic fields, in order to map the current state of the fields, to demonstrate how knowledge domains are maintained and changed, and to provide recommendations for practitioners and relevant policy-makers for expanded tool kits.Theoretically, the project will approach these questions on fields of knowledge and their emergence from perspectives of the sociology of science and organizational sociology. Methodologically, it will combine traditional social science methods with computational methods, using interviews, field notes, as well as large textual corpora to map and analyze the professional and organizational fields using network analyses. The project is divided into four subprojects, with interspersed workshops for training and international exchange. Building on an interdisciplinary, especially Anglo-US literature, the project sets out to empirically (A) assess the current state of methods training in German speaking sociology and, in parallel moves, (B) investigate the emerging fields of data science and (C) data journalism with respect to their required methodological toolkits. Based on a comparative analysis of those three fields that study social behavior, the project will (D) identify core strengths as well as notable divergences in order to provide recommendations for strengthening existing methods repertoires and to expand training. The subprojects A, B, and C are doctoral student projects, while the applicant is responsible for the synthesizing subproject D. This project contributes to the social science research capacities in Switzerland and their international competitiveness to understand and deal with the methodological and, in turn, educational challenges facing Big Data. Expanded competencies in methods will enable sociology graduates to actively engage in the field of Big Data driven academic, commercial and administrative research, thereby contributing to their employability. Data fluency together with classical sociological skills can give rise to new opportunities for brokerage of subject and technical expertise across disciplinary boundaries, in the academe but also in many commercial and administrative workplaces, wherever people are needed to interpret social data. But the project will not only aim to provide recommendations for the extension of sociological toolkits. It will also deliver recommendations for the other two data analytic fields. Moreover, as a quest for data literacy, data fluency, data curation and analytic skills spreads across the disciplines, this project’s recommendations can also yield indications for training in other social sciences and humanities.
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