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Web Social Science
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Web Social Science
Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age



© 2013 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"Although written simply enough to be accessible to undergraduates, accomplished scholars are likely to appreciate it too. Reading it taught me quite a lot about a subject I thought I knew rather well."
- Paul Vogt, Illinois State University

"This book brings the art and science of building and applying innovative online research tools to students and faculty across the social sciences."
- William H. Dutton, University of Oxford

A comprehensive guide to the theory and practice of web Social Science. This book demonstrates how the web is being used to collect social research data, such as online surveys and interviews, as well as digital trace data from social media environments, such as Facebook and Twitter. It also illuminates how the advent of the web has led to traditional social science concepts and approaches being combined with those from other scientific disciplines, leading to new insights into social, political and economic behaviour.

Situating social sciences in the digital age, this book aids:

  • understanding of the fundamental changes to society, politics and the economy that have resulted from the advent of the web
  • choice of appropriate data, tools and research methods for conducting research using web data
  • learning how web data are providing new insights into long-standing social science research questions
  • appreciation of how social science can facilitate an understanding of life in the digital age

It is ideal for students and researchers across the social sciences, as well as those from information science, computer science and engineering who want to learn about how social scientists are thinking about and researching the web.

 
Chapter 1. Introduction
 
PART ONE: WEB SOCIAL SCIENCE METHODS
 
Chapter 2. Online Research Methods
Dimensions and Modes of Online Research  
Online Surveys  
Online Interviews and Focus Groups  
Web Content Analysis  
Social Media Network Analysis  
Online Experiments  
Online Field Research  
Digital Trace Data: Ethics  
 
Chapter 3. Social Media Networks
Social Networks: Concepts and Definitions  
Social Network Analysis  
Social Media Networks  
Social Networks, Information Networks and Communication Networks  
SNA Metrics for the Example School Friendship Network (advanced)  
 
Chapter 4. Hyperlink Networks
Hyperlink Networks: Background  
Three Disciplinary Perspectives on Hyperlink Networks  
Tools for Hyperlink Network Research  
 
PART TWO: WEB SOCIAL SCIENCE EXAMPLES
 
Chapter 5. Friendship Formation and Social Influence
Homophily in Friendship Formation  
Social Influence  
 
Chapter 6. Organisational Collective Behaviour
Collective Behaviour on the Web: Background  
Collective Action and Public Goods  
Networked Social Movements  
 
Chapter 7. Politics and Participation
Visibility of Political Information  
Social and Political Engagement  
Political Homophily  
An Introduction to Power Laws (advanced)  
 
Chapter 8. Government and Public Policy
Delivery of Information to Citizens  
Government Authority  
Public Policy Modelling  
 
Chapter 9. Production and Collaboration
Peer Production and Information Public Goods  
Scholarly Activity and Communication  
Network Structure and Achievement  
 
Chapter 10. Commerce and Marketing
Distribution of Product Sales  
Influence in Markets  

Ackland's Web Social Science is unique in being specifically designed for social science researchers. Although written simply enough to be accessible to undergraduates, accomplished scholars are likely to appreciate it too. Reading it taught me quite a lot about a subject I thought I knew rather well.

Paul Vogt
Emeritus Professor of Research Methods and Evaluation, Illinois State University

A rare and timely entry to the growing body of quantitative Internet research. While most other works on the topic are written by and for scientists, this book represents a social science approach that is more accessible and applicable, with more attention to preparation, processing and interpretation of real-world data. Though primarily for readers in social science, business studies, policy analysts, and alike, the book blends traditional social science and emerging web science into a unique handbook of Internet research.

Jonathan J. H. Zhu
Professor of Media and Communication and Founding Director of Web Mining Lab, City University of Hong Kong

Brings the art and science of building and applying innovative online research tools to students and faculty across the social sciences.

William H. Dutton
Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Provides excellent chapters on how to study the Web from a social science research perspective. Although there are many books on theorizing the Internet and the Web, few tackle hands-on research issues. This two-part book (divided into a methods section and example studies) covers a wide range of research designs, tools and data types from many different social science perspectives (psychology, sociology, media studies, political studies and network science among others). Highly recommended for social science studies that want to use the Web to study social phenomena (the Web as a tool) and media studies that focus on the Web itself as a research object.

Maurice Vergeer
Radboud University Nijmegen

This book combines the technical terms with the social science perspective and some important topics in daily life related to private life, organisational, political and economic activities. It is appropriate for scientists and students in different areas – social, engineering, economic – every area that uses web for informing, promoting, exerting social influence and conducting studies.

Stanislava Yordanova Stoyanova
www.methodspace.com

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1


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ISBN: 9781849204828
ISBN: 9781849204811

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.