Tag Archives: data

5 reasons why online Big Data is Bad Data for researching social movements

By Jen Schradie

bigbaddata

I know, I know, it’s digital blasphemy to say that using Internet data is a terrible way to study social movements. What about all of those Twitter and Facebook revolutions of the Arab Spring? And Occupy Wall Street? #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter spread like wildfire, for God’s sake.

You may think that I’m a luddite who doesn’t see the sheer statistical splendor and speed of social network diagrams or automated text analyses made from Tweets.  Or, perhaps you’re thinking that old-school scholars just don’t get it: digital activism is the future, so we need to disrupt, innovate and flatten those hierarchical Marxist social movement sociologists.

But before you reach through your screen and strangle me with your iPhone charger cord, consider these ways in which online data, whether social media or otherwise, might not be as representative or generalizable as they are fast and efficient. Continue reading

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Text as Data: A Call to Standardize Access and Training

Text as Fist

By Laura K. Nelson

Data come in all shapes and sizes, but in the past ten years we have seen huge leaps in the amount of data readily available in the form of unstructured or semi-structured text. This presents both opportunities and challenges for social science researchers, including social movements scholars.

Two sources of text-as-data have long been staples in social movements research: newspapers and organizational literature. Newspapers have been used as the basis for event counts (e.g., here, here, and here), as a measurement of movement frames, and as a movement outcome (e.g., here and here). Organizational literature is often used to show that the way social movements themselves express ideas is critical to their success (e.g. here, here, and here). Continue reading

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China Labor Protests Dataset

With the acceleration of market reforms in the 1990s, the Chinese economy and society underwent a series of major changes. The radical shift of economic system records aggregate GDP growth rate of about 10 percent every year. However, recent waves of mass protest across the country reveal the dark side of China’s economic boom. While citizens’ standards of living are continuing to increase, income inequality has grown to a factor of threat. Individuals belonging to losing groups amidst these wrenching changes have increasingly protested. The number of mass incidents, especially the labor incidents is large and increasing, but the exact number is unknown.

In the absence of official government statistics, I would like to recommend two crowd-mapped data sets on labor strikes in China:

1. China Labour Bulletin

This data set keeps tracking of strikes, protests and other contentious, collective actions taken by Chinese workers to defend their rights and interests. It covers the years 2011 to present and its regular research reports have used Chinese newspapers’ websites, dissident blogs, and information from the organization’s call-in radio show. It is constantly being updated.

2. China Strike

This data set is maintained by a PhD candidate in Political Science at Cornell University. It collects news reports of worker protests between January 1, 2008 and April, 2013, counting more than 800 incidents. According to the instructions, “only contentious, collective actions by workers over workplace issues are included. Thus, land disputes or environmental protests, though important in their own right, are excluded from this site.”

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Word Clouds as a Tool for Social Movement Research and Teaching

You’ve seen them everywhere: Word Clouds. In case you haven’t yet tried creating one here is the website: http://www.wordle.net/.

Social Movement scholars are in many ways just at the beginning of textual analysis. Word clouds could provide us with a simple new way to study not only the texts that movements put out but also the the media coverage that movements receive. They provide an extremely quick means of identifying the most frequently used keywords. This in turn might provide a helpful baseline for further analyses of texts.

The example below shows a word cloud of a media release from a well-known social movement organization.

What social movement organization created this media release?

animal

Just for fun I have also created a word cloud using the content of the CVs of two scholars affiliated with Mobilizing Ideas.  I have taken their names out but see if you can guess who they are.

What social movement scholar’s CV was used to create this word cloud?

earl

What social movement scholar’s CV was used to create this word cloud?

McVegh

Answers are below……

Answers:

  1. PETA  http://www.peta.org/media/news-releases/new-study-shows-growing-opposition-animal-tests/
  2. Jennifer Earl
  3. Rory McVeigh

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Feb 1 deadline for Internet Data CFP

I wanted to let people know/remind folks of an upcoming submission deadline that might be of interest to people.

From 2006-2012, I had a NSF CAREER Award to collect data on online protest across 20 different issue areas. That effort produced two time-series datasets: a panel dataset tracking about 1,200 websites across 5 years, and a cross-sectional dataset tracking new samples of websites each year for five years. Each of these datasets is really two nested sets: one on the overall websites and one on all protest actions that were hosted or linked to from study websites. Continue reading

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The State of Hate

By Heidi Beirich and Evelyn Schlatter

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has developed an international reputation for its tracking of extremism since the 1980s and its innovative lawsuits. Initially founded as a civil rights law firm, the SPLC has been at the forefront of groundbreaking lawsuits that have advanced social justice, furthered reform, and helped end or damage major extremist organizations including several powerful Klan groups.

Each year, the Southern Poverty Law Center produces a list of groups that fall into a variety of “hate” categories. Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Racist and Racial Justice Movements