Wednesday 28 March 2018 – Lunchtime Seminar with Dr Photini Vrikki (Brunel University London)

Title: Finding the ‘Social’ in Social Media Data: a Discourse Approach to the Analysis of Big Data
Speaker: Dr Photini Vrikki, Brunel University London
Date and time: Wednesday 28th March 2018, 1pm-2pm
Hosted by: Dr Anandi Ramamurthy

In recent years, scientists within and beyond established fields of what is considered social sciences and the humanities have begun engaging with new data infrastructures—the so-called Big Data field—and use computational technologies and methods to formulate analyses grounded in empirical research. Moving beyond assertions of the ‘end of theory’ proclaiming that Big Data is now the road to research’s success, the real questions now focus on how to approach the complex issues raised by emerging data and evolving technologies. A number of digital methods scholars alongside with data social scientists, have debated upon the political and social dimensions of this data and technology, arguing for the need of using both critical analysis and transparent methods to research Big Data.

This debate proposes several challenges in theory and methods, with a response that looks into determining the limitations of dealing with such big datasets, and underlines the value of research that works with ‘small data’, data that humans can understand without the help of computerised tools.

In this talk Dr Vrikki will argue that in order to resolve this debate we should work with big and small data simultaneously through discursive analysis in order to understand the social implications of social media. By exploring and evaluating critical approaches to data sourced from Twitter this talk will suggest that a social media dataset can be considered to be a Big Data dataset but the computerised handling of it, and the focus on specific features in the content of the tweets, makes it more comprehensible and gives it features of ‘small data’ which can then be analysed discursively.

Dr Photini Vrikki is a Research Fellow in Digital Humanities at Brunel University London. She is currently leading on the digital side of the AHRC Creative Interruptions project. Her research interests span from the politics of resistance and data storytelling to identity politics, social movements, and solidarities forming in social media networks and digital environments.


See here for details of other seminars in the series.

All SHU staff and students are welcome to attend the C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminars. If you are from outside of the University and would like to attend a seminar, please email the C3RI Administrator to arrange entry.