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On the social scientific value of transactional data

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In 2007 Mike Savage and Roger Burrows’s paper ‘The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology’ responded to “the proliferation of ‘social’ transactional data which are now routinely collected, processed and analysed by a wide variety of private and public institutions” by looking forward to a new Sociology where “both the sample survey and the in-depth interview are increasingly dated research methods.” This talk will outline some of the empirical value of these ‘social’ transactional data through examples using unique call record and other datasets held in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex and which we are starting to explore through collaborations with colleagues in the Departments of Computer Science & Electronic Engineering and of Mathematical Sciences.

Bio: Dr Ben Anderson (http://cresi.essex.ac.uk/getperson?personID=1) is Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation at the University of Essex and has used techniques from cognitive psychology, anthropology, sociology and ethnography during his time as an academic and commercial research scientist engaged in pure and applied social research. Before joining the University of Essex in 2002, he ran ‘Digital Living’, a BT programme of applied social science research based on a longitudinal household panel which included quantitative surveys, time-use diaries, ethnographic studies and customer data capture (call records, internet usage logs) which lead fairly directly to a pre-occupation with radical data. Ben’s research interests are in the co-evolution of technologies and social practices with a particular focus on variations in processes of co-adaptation and self-organisation across time and space. Historically this has involved substantial work in and for the telecommunications sector but his work is increasingly focusing on other ‘infrastructures’ including energy and water.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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