Studying Networked Publics through Social Media and Controversy Mapping

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Presentation by Jean Burgess and Theresa Sauter at the Emerging Challenges in Digital Media Research seminar, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology

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Studying Networked Publics through Social Media and Controversy Mapping

  1. 1. Studying Networked Publics through Social Media and Controversy Mapping Associate Professor Jean Burgess Dr Theresa Sauter
  2. 2. NETWORKED PUBLICS AND THEIR ISSUES WHY PUBLICS? • American pragmatists: Dewey (The Public and Its Problems, 1927) and Lippman (The Phantom Public, 1927)  “Issues spark a public into being” (Marres, 2005) WHY NETWORKS? • • Latour: „an actor is nothing but a network‟ and „a network is nothing but its actors‟ (2011: 800) ANT – Tracing material and semiotic relations of heterogeneous elements to see how they shape one another. WHY ISSUES? • • „Hot situations‟ (Callon, 1998); „matters of concern‟ (Latour, 2003); „experimental events‟ (Stengers, 2005) Tracing „an assemblage of actors jointly implicated in an issue … as a way of finding out whether and how issue-networks may organize publics‟ (Marres and Rogers, 2005: 929).
  3. 3. DIGITAL METHODS THE DIGITAL • More data, more information, more experts, more issues. • The „expansion of digitality‟ (Latour 2011: 802) - increased complexity and new solutions. SOCIAL MEDIA • „Lively data‟ (Savage, 2013: 4) • New voices, new publics, new issues, new tools. DIGITAL METHODS • „Reassembling social science methods‟ (Ruppert et al., 2013) • „Restructuring the study of social existence‟ (Rogers, 2004) • Unite qual and quant, micro and macro, structure vs. agency
  4. 4. CONTROVERSY MAPPING • Exploring and visualising the complexities of a debate around a contentious public issue. • ANT and STS CONTROVERSIES • relational, dynamic, democratic, productive. • provide insights into the dimensions of a social phenomenon. • Controversies uncover “the state of an issue and the state of its public” (Marres and Rogers, 2005: 928), and generate opportunities for new knowledge production. MACOSPOL (MApping COntroversies on Science for POLitics) • To combine „the best research in science, technology and society‟ and “the best research on web-based tools‟ to build a „web-based platform to help the exploration and mapping of scientific controversies‟ (mappingcontroversies.net)
  5. 5. CONNECTING SOCIAL MEDIA • Everyday experience & popular culture • Role of emotion and affect • Proliferation of voices, objects, actors • Proxy access to media ecology around existing debates • Early identification of controversies
  6. 6. ISSUE EXPLORATION VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
  7. 7. ISSUE EXPLORATION VIA SOCIAL MEDIA #vape
  8. 8. ISSUE EXPLORATION VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
  9. 9. HASHTAG AS HYBRID FORUM #agchatoz @replies Jul-Oct 2013
  10. 10. CONTRIBUTIONS & CHALLENGES • Existing methods: Identification and exploration of issues and associated controversies – – – – – Levels of activity Identification of themes, discourses Actors and their relationships Key media resources and websites Accounting for the materiality of platforms • Methodological challenges: – – – – Issue boundary & data access Misbehaving publics „Quanti-quali‟/data-driven ethnographic approaches Visualisation, public communication & intervention

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