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Social Media and Human Rights


Noortje Marres

R(w)SM Reading Group, June 2nd, 2015, 2-3:30pm, Seminar Room, Sociology


Noortje is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths.  She convenes the MA/MSc Digital Sociology and is Director of the inter-disciplinary research centre CSISP (Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process).  Noortje was part of the team that built the Issuecrawler, an online platform for the location and analysis of issue-networks, and is currently developing Issue Mapping Online.  Previously, she was a Research Fellow in Science & Technology Studies at the University of Oxford, and a Marie Curie Fellow in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths. She studied sociology and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, and did her doctoral research at that same university and at the Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, École des Mines, Paris. 

Noortje's work investigates various intersections between technology, environment, knowledge, and the public. She has a background in the social studies of science and technology, and her recent work is mainly concerned with the role of devices, environments and things in the enactment of participation (in public life, innovation, research, change). She takes a special interest in digital forms of social research, with a focus on the development of methods and tools of controversy analysis and issue mapping. She has also done work that brings together science and technology studies with political theory: she has written about issues of democracy in the technological society, and pragmatist contributions to our understanding of it, through concepts of material participation and public experiments.

Presentation overview

Doing social research with social media: the question of participation 

Social media are often characterized in terms of their capacities for engagement, and they are sometimes seen as examplary of a wider shift from ‘audience’ to ‘participation’. In my talk I will discuss some possible implications of the participatory qualities of social media for social research. I advocate a broad understanding of digital participation, which begins with the recognition that, in practice, digital social research usually involves and indeed requires collaboration between diverse constituencies.

Key reading

Supplementary readings

Kelty, C., 2012. From Participation to Power. In Delwiche, A. and Henderson, J., editors, The Participatory Cultures Handbook. New York and London: Routledge.

Latour, B., Jensen, P., Venturini, T., Grauwin, S., & Boullier, D., 2012. 'The Whole is Always Smaller than its Parts: A Digital Test of Gabriel Tardes' Monads.' The British Journal of Sociology, 63(4): 590-615.

Marres, N and Weltevrede, E., 2013. ,Scraping the Social: Issues in Live Research.' Journal of Cultural Economy 6(3): 313-335.

Rogers, R., 2009. 'The End of the Virtual: Digital Methods.' Inaugural Speech, Chair, New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam. 

About this website

This is the website for Ella McPherson's work related to her 2014-17 ESRC-funded research project, Social Media, Human Rights NGOs, and the Potential for Governmental Accountability.