Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

Making sense of the social world

Research seminars and webcasts

View details of staff and postgraduate research seminars using the calendar below.

Some seminars are recorded and can be viewed as webcasts.



Feb 2
16:00 - 18:00
Speaking Sociologically with Big Data: symphonic social science and the future for big data research
SSPSSR Staff and Postgraduate Research Seminars
Susan Halford, University of Southampton and Mike Savage, London School of Economics

Abstract: Recent years have seen a stand-off between the proponents of big data analytics, using new forms of digital data to make computational and statistical claims about 'the social', and many sociologists who are sceptical about the value of big data, its associated methods and the claims to knowledge that are made. We seek to move beyond this, taking inspiration from a highly successful mode of argumentation pursued by Putnam (2000), Wilkinson and Pickett (2009) and Piketty (2014) that we label 'symphonic social science'. This bears both striking similarities and significant differences to the big data paradigm and – as such – offers the potential to do big data analytics differently. This offers considerable advantages to those already working with big data – for whom the difficulties of making useful and sustainable claims about the social are increasingly apparent – and put the sociologists in a position to shape big data analytics for the future.

Chair:  Tim Strangleman

No need to book


Seminar Room 2,
Cornwallis East
United Kingdom


Open to SSPSSR Staff and PGR students,


Contact: Eddy Hogg



Telephone: +44(0)1227 823072 Fax: +44(0)1227 827005 or email us

SSPSSR, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cornwallis North East, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF

Last Updated: 20/09/2016