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Web Social Science

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

June 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
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

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


I am no longer in charge of the module but I alerted a colleague about the book as I think it is a very good introduction to the subject.

Dr Monika Metykova
School of Media, Sussex University
December 9, 2014

This is well written text for novice researcher who maybe interest in exploring social networked approach in open distance education

Professor Micheal Van Wyk
Teacher Education, University of South Africa (UNISA)
October 13, 2014

This methodological primer provides an accessible and well illustrated account of key research methods for the study of online communication and social interaction. Students found it a useful source book for designing dissertation methodologies.

Dr Dan Mercea
Department of Sociology, City University
March 3, 2014

With an increasing amount of research being undertaken via the web utilising extensive on line data bases, this book gives students a significant insight into all considerations of research and the web

Mrs Fiona Porter
Dept of Social Sciences & Humanities, Bradford University
September 9, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781849204828
ISBN: 9781849204811

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