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Field Research in the Middle East during and after the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed borders and disrupted travel and research plans for many academics. In this cross-disciplinary panel discussion, Peter Krause and Golnar Nikpour address the challenges and possibilities of doing archival and field research in the Middle East during the pandemic. They discuss incorporating contingency planning into research designs, concerns related to protecting the safety of researchers and research participants, and finding ways to build relationships and gather and share material in new and creative ways.

Watch the video here (1 hour).

Ethnic Conflict Goes Mobile: Mobile Technology’s Effect on the Opportunities and Motivations for Violent Collective Action

Bailard, Catie Snow. 2015. ‘Ethnic Conflict Goes Mobile: Mobile Technology’s Effect on the Opportunities and Motivations for Violent Collective Action’. Journal of Peace Research 52 (3): 323–37. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343314556334.

Download here (pdf)

This analysis contributes to the body of research testing the effect of mobile phone availability on the probability of violent conflict by shifting the unit of analysis to that of distinct ethnic groups. This approach provides two important advantages. First, it tests the robustness of this relationship by determining whether this effect maintains when shifted to a more rigorous and theoretically appropriate level of analysis. Second, shifting the analysis to the group level also enables tests of specific characteristics that may condition the effect of mobile phone availability on violent collective action. The first set of characteristics test whether mobile phone availability primarily increases a group’s opportunities to engage in violent collective action as a result of decreased organizational costs due to diminished communication costs. The second set of characteristics explore whether mobile phone availability makes violent collective action more likely as a result of increasing a group’s motivation to organize, thanks to enabling more efficient communication about shared grievances between group members. The results yield mixed support for both of these potential mechanisms, providing needed insight into the dynamics at play in this relationship – a matter that very much remains in the ‘black box’ at this point in time.

Mediated Political Agency in Contested Africa

Franz, Daschel, Heather Elizabeth Marsh, Jason I Chen, en Alan R Teo. 2019. ‘Using Facebook for Qualitative Research: A Brief Primer’. Journal of Medical Internet Research 21 (8): e13544. https://doi.org/10.2196/13544.

Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31411143/

As Facebook continues to grow its number of active users, the potential to harness data generated by Facebook users also grows. As much of Facebook users' activity consists of creating (and commenting on) written posts, the potential use of text data for research is enormous. However, conducting a content analysis of text from Facebook users requires adaptation of research methods used for more traditional sources of qualitative data. Furthermore, best practice guidelines to assist researchers interested in conducting qualitative studies using data derived from Facebook are lacking. The purpose of this primer was to identify opportunities, as well as potential pitfalls, of conducting qualitative research with Facebook users and their activity on Facebook and provide potential options to address each of these issues. We begin with an overview of information obtained from a literature review of 23 studies published between 2011 and 2018 and our own research experience to summarize current approaches to conducting qualitative health research using data obtained from Facebook users. We then identify potential strategies to address limitations related to current approaches and propose 5 key considerations for the collection, organization, and analysis of text data from Facebook. Finally, we consider ethical issues around the use and protection of Facebook data obtained from research participants. In this primer, we have identified several key considerations that should aid health researchers in the planning and execution of qualitative studies involving content analysis of text data from Facebook users.

Content Analysis of Whatsapp Conversations: An Analytical Study to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Whatsapp Application in Karachi

‘Content Analysis of Whatsapp Conversations: An Analytical Study to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Whatsapp Application in Karachi’. 2018. International Journal of Media, Journalism and Mass Communications 4 (1). https://doi.org/10.20431/2454-9479.0401002. https://www.arcjournals.org/pdfs/ijmjmc/v4-i1/2.pdf

WhatsApp application has recently emerged as a substitute of SMS in developing countries. It includes a variety of functions such as sharing live location, files, video, audio and text messages to any part of the world. The increasing trend of WhatsApp messenger as an innovative communication application in the metropolitan city Karachi is a matter of newer subject of interest that needs evaluation and research based understanding. It generates huge volume of data which has not yet been researched thoroughly in Pakistan. Therefore, the present study was conducted with an aim to analyze the WhatsApp of WhatsApp conversations. It also aimed at exploring the frequency and composition of WhatsApp users along with usage and nature of their conversations. The research methodology includes quantitative and qualitative data. In this regard, a total of 50 private and group conversations of 15 days were collected from 25 students and 25 professionals. The quantitative data was analyzed through python programming language. It was discovered that a total number of 66,327 messages, 869,404 words and 6163 media files were sent by 2,023 WhatsApp users in 30 days. It was also discovered that students are using WhatsApp more than Professionals. Furthermore, standard word formation process was also observed. It was also discovered that both students and professionals use WhatsApp to achieve their academic and business goals. They use WhatsApp to build their interpersonal relationships. It’s also a source of entertainment for them. It is concluded that it is indispensible to revolutionize and adopt the latest technology in order to dilute the emerging challenges in Pakistan.

From cell phones to conflict? Reflections on the emerging ICT–political conflict research agenda

Dafoe, Allan, en Lyall, Jason. 2015. ‘From cell phones to conflict? Reflections on the emerging ICT–political conflict research agenda’. Journal of Peace Research52 52 (3): 401–413.

Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0022343314563653

From mobilizing masses to monitoring rebels, information and communication technologies (ICT) are transforming political conflict. We reflect on the contributions made by the articles of this special issue to the emerging ICT–political conflict research agenda, highlighting strengths of these articles, and offering suggestions for moving forward. Elaborate theory is crucial: it informs our standards of evidence, our choice of statistical models, our tests of competing theories, and our efforts to draw appropriate generalizations. Qualitative data is often neglected as a source of evidence, especially for evaluating the many competing mechanisms in this literature. Alternative explanations for results should be taken seriously, especially more mundane ones like confounding, measurement, and selection biases. We discuss in detail the risk that measurement bias could account for the prominent association between cellular coverage and (reported) conflict, and recommend several ways of evaluating and bounding this risk. We discuss the problem of temporal and spatial dependence for statistical inference – a problem that is often present for studies of ICTs – and point out that methodological solutions rely on (rarely stated) causal assumptions. Finally, we highlight key areas for future research, recommend a commitment to transparency best practices, and conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of this research.

Using Facebook for Qualitative Research: A Brief Primer

Franz, Daschel, Heather Elizabeth Marsh, Jason I Chen, en Alan R Teo. 2019. ‘Using Facebook for Qualitative Research: A Brief Primer’. Journal of Medical Internet Research 21 (8): e13544. https://doi.org/10.2196/13544.

Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31411143/

As Facebook continues to grow its number of active users, the potential to harness data generated by Facebook users also grows. As much of Facebook users' activity consists of creating (and commenting on) written posts, the potential use of text data for research is enormous. However, conducting a content analysis of text from Facebook users requires adaptation of research methods used for more traditional sources of qualitative data. Furthermore, best practice guidelines to assist researchers interested in conducting qualitative studies using data derived from Facebook are lacking. The purpose of this primer was to identify opportunities, as well as potential pitfalls, of conducting qualitative research with Facebook users and their activity on Facebook and provide potential options to address each of these issues. We begin with an overview of information obtained from a literature review of 23 studies published between 2011 and 2018 and our own research experience to summarize current approaches to conducting qualitative health research using data obtained from Facebook users. We then identify potential strategies to address limitations related to current approaches and propose 5 key considerations for the collection, organization, and analysis of text data from Facebook. Finally, we consider ethical issues around the use and protection of Facebook data obtained from research participants. In this primer, we have identified several key considerations that should aid health researchers in the planning and execution of qualitative studies involving content analysis of text data from Facebook users.

Netnography: A Method Specifically Designed to Study Cultures and Communities Online

Gary M. Bowler, Jr. 2010. ‘Netnography: A Method Specifically Designed to Study Cultures and Communities Online’.

Link: http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR15-5/kozinets.pdf. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1341&context=tqr

With many people now using online communities such as newsgroups, blogs, forums, social networking sites, podcasting, videocasting, photosharing communities, and virtual worlds, the internet is now an important site for research. Kozinets' (2010) new text explores netnography, or the conduct of ethnography over the internet - a method specifically designed to study cultures and communities online. Guidelines for the accurate and ethical conduct of ethnographic research online are set out, with detailed, step-by-step guidance to thoroughly introduce, explain, and illustrate the method to students and researchers. Kozinets surveys the latest research on online cultures and communities, focusing on the methods used to study them, with examples focusing on the blogosphere (blogging), microblogging, videocasting, podcasting, social networking sites, virtual worlds, and more. The book is essential reading for researchers and students in social sciences.

Old Questions, New Techniques: A Research Note on the Computational Identification of Political Elites

Hicks, Jacqueline, Vincent Traag, en Ridho Reinanda. 2015. ‘Old Questions, New Techniques: A Research Note on the Computational Identification of Political Elites’. Comparative Sociology 14 (3): 386–401. https://doi.org/10.1163/15691330-12341347.

This paper presents a new method of identifying a nation’s political elite using computational techniques on digitised newspaper articles. It begins by describing the three most widely used methods of identifying political elites: positional, decisional and reputational. It then introduces the “reported elite method”, exploring the kinds of elites it detects and how well it reflects the composition of political elites in our case study of Indonesia. Compared to the other existing methods, we find that our method casts a much wider net when searching for political elites, resulting in many more people from civil society, far fewer formal politicians, and challenging conventional notions of who is a political elite. The method has two major underlying assumptions: (1) the newspapers from which the texts are drawn are free and fairly representative and (2) political power can be inferred from frequent appearance in newspapers alongside other frequently appearing individuals in computational “communities” of political elite.

The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography

Hjorth, Larissa, Heather A. Horst, Anne Galloway, en Genevieve Bell, red. 2017. The Routledge companion to digital ethnography. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Link: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Companion-to-Digital-Ethnography/Hjorth-Horst-Galloway-Bell/p/book/9780367873585

With the increase of digital and networked media in everyday life, researchers have increasingly turned their gaze to the symbolic and cultural elements of technologies. From studying online game communities, locative and social media to YouTube and mobile media, ethnographic approaches to digital and networked media have helped to elucidate the dynamic cultural and social dimensions of media practice. The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography provides an authoritative, up-to-date, intellectually broad, and conceptually cutting-edge guide to this emergent and diverse area.

Digital Ethnography Toward Augmented Empiricism: A New Methodological Framework

Hsu, Wendy. 2014. ‘Digital Ethnography Toward Augmented Empiricism: A New Methodological Framework’. Journal of Digital Humanities 3 (1). http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/3-1/digital-ethnography-toward-augmented-empiricism-by-wendy-hsu/.

Link: http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/3-1/digital-ethnography-toward-augmented-empiricism-by-wendy-hsu/

Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online

Kozinets, R.V. 2010. Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online. London: SAGE.

Robert V. Kozinets is widely recognized as the inventor of netnography, and a social media marketing and research authority. He has authored and co-authored over 150 pieces of research, and hundreds more Tweets (@kozinets) and blog posts (kozinets.net), usually about the intersection of technology, media, brands, methods, institutions and social groups. This includes four books – three of them Sage Method books. Currently, Kozinets is Associate Editor of the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Retailing, an Academic Trustee of the Marketing Science Institute, and is the Industry seat on the Board of Directors of the Association for Consumer Research. On the industry side, he has extensive speaking, training and consulting experience with a range of global companies and organizations, including HSBC, TD Banking and Financial Group, American Express, Merck, Sony, Nissan, eBay, Campbell Soup and L’Oréal. He is Professor of Marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, where he is also Chair of the Marketing department.

A Digital Mixed Methods Research Design: Integrating Multimodal Analysis With Data Mining and Information Visualization for Big Data Analytics

O’Halloran, Kay L., Sabine Tan, Duc-Son Pham, John Bateman, en Andrew Vande Moere. 2018. ‘A Digital Mixed Methods Research Design: Integrating Multimodal Analysis With Data Mining and Information Visualization for Big Data Analytics’. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 12 (1): 11–30.https://doi.org/10.1177/1558689816651015.

Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1558689816651015

This article demonstrates how a digital environment offers new opportunities for transforming qualitative data into quantitative data in order to use data mining and information visualization for mixed methods research. The digital approach to mixed methods research is illustrated by a framework which combines qualitative methods of multimodal discourse analysis with quantitative methods of data mining and information visualization in a multilevel, contextual model that will result in an integrated, theoretically well-founded, and empirically evaluated technology for analyzing large data sets of multimodal texts. The framework is applicable to situations in which critical information needs to be extracted from geotagged public data: for example, in crisis informatics, where public reports of extreme events provide valuable data sources for disaster management.

Digital Ethnography: Anthropology, Narrative, and New Media

Underberg, Natalie M. 2013. Digital Ethnography: Anthropology, Narrative, and New Media. First paperback edition.. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Here is a state-of-the-art primer on digital applications for social scientists, with explorations of the emerging field of hypermedia ethnography.

Young People, Social Media and Connective Action: From Organisational Maintenance to Everyday Political Talk

Vromen, Ariadne, Michael A. Xenos, en Brian Loader. 2015. ‘Young People, Social Media and Connective Action: From Organisational Maintenance to Everyday Political Talk’. Journal of Youth Studies 18 (1): 80–100. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2014.933198.

Social media is pervasive in the lives of young people, and this paper critically analyses how politically engaged young people integrate social media use into their existing organisations and political communications. This qualitative research project studied how young people from a broad range of existing political and civic groups use social media for sharing information, mobilisation and, increasingly, as a means to redefine political action and political spaces. Twelve in-person focus groups were conducted in Australia, the USA and the UK with matched affinity groups based on university campuses. The groups were of four types: party political group, issue-based group, identity-based group and social group. Our focus group findings suggest that this in-depth approach to understanding young people's political engagement reveals important group-based differences emerging in young people's citizenship norms: between the dutiful allegiance to formal politics and a more personalised, self-actualising preference for online, discursive forms of political engagement and organising. The ways in which political information is broadcast, shared and talked about on social media by engaged young people demonstrate the importance of communicative forms of action for the future of political engagement and connective action.

Annotating Expressions of Opinions and Emotions in Language

Wiebe, Janyce, Theresa Wilson, en Claire Cardie. 2005. ‘Annotating Expressions of Opinions and Emotions in Language’. Language Resources and Evaluation 39 (2–3): 165–210. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10579-005-7880-9.

Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10579-005-7880-9

This paper describes a corpus annotation project to study issues in the manual annotation of opinions, emotions, sentiments, speculations, evaluations and other private states in language. The resulting corpus annotation scheme is described, as well as examples of its use. In addition, the manual annotation process and the results of an inter-annotator agreement study on a 10,000-sentence corpus of articles drawn from the world press are presented.

A Review of Facebook Research in the Social Sciences

Wilson, Robert E., Samuel D. Gosling, en Lindsay T. Graham. 2012. ‘A Review of Facebook Research in the Social Sciences’. Perspectives on Psychological Science 7 (3): 203–20. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691612442904.

Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1745691612442904

With over 800 million active users, Facebook is changing the way hundreds of millions of people relate to one another and share information. A rapidly growing body of research has accompanied the meteoric rise of Facebook as social scientists assess the impact of Facebook on social life. In addition, researchers have recognized the utility of Facebook as a novel tool to observe behavior in a naturalistic setting, test hypotheses, and recruit participants. However, research on Facebook emanates from a wide variety of disciplines, with results being published in a broad range of journals and conference proceedings, making it difficult to keep track of various findings. And because Facebook is a relatively recent phenomenon, uncertainty still exists about the most effective ways to do Facebook research. To address these issues, the authors conducted a comprehensive literature search, identifying 412 relevant articles, which were sorted into 5 categories: descriptive analysis of users, motivations for using Facebook, identity presentation, the role of Facebook in social interactions, and privacy and information disclosure. The literature review serves as the foundation from which to assess current findings and offer recommendations to the field for future research on Facebook and online social networks more broadly.