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Back to the Future of Social Theory: an Interview with Nicholas Gane

David Beer and Nicholas Gane
Sociological Research Online 9 (4) beer

Abstract:

Capturing the Livingness and Liveliness of Critique-In-Action

David Beer
Sociological Research Online 10 (3) beer

Abstract:

The Pop-Pickers Have Picked Decentralised Media: the Fall of Top of the Pops and the Rise of the Second Media Age

David Beer
Sociological Research Online 11 (3) beer

Abstract: The BBC has recently announced that Top of the Pops, the long-running weekly popular music programme, will broadcast its final episode in the summer of 2006. This brief 'rapid response' article considers how the conclusion of Top of the Pops' 42 year history may be understood as representative or indicative of broader transformation in musical appropriation. As such it considers the fall of Top of the Pops in relation to the rise of what Mark Poster has described as a 'second media age' (Poster, 1996). This second media age is defined by the emergence of decentralised and multidimensional media structures that usurp the broadcast models of the first media age. This article argues that the decommissioning of Top of the Pops, and the ongoing expansion of 'social networking' sites such as MySpace and Bebo, illustrates the movement from a first to a second media age. In light of these transformations I suggest here that there is a pressing need to develop new research initiatives and strategies that critically examine these new digitalised forms of musical appropriation.

Sociology And, of and in Web 2.0: Some Initial Considerations

David Beer and Roger Burrows
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 17

Abstract: This paper introduces the idea of Web 2.0 to a sociological audience as a key example of a process of cultural digitization that is moving faster than our ability to analyse it. It offers a definition, a schematic overview and a typology of the notion as part of a commitment to a renewal of description in sociology. It provides examples of wikis, folksonomies, mashups and social networking sites and, where possible and by way of illustration, examines instances where sociology and sociologists are featured. The paper then identifies three possible agendas for the development of a viable sociology of Web 2.0: the changing relations between the production and consumption of internet content; the mainstreaming of private information posted to the public domain; and, the emergence of a new rhetoric of 'democratisation'. The paper concludes by discussing some of the ways in which we can engage with these new web applications and go about developing sociological understandings of the new online cultures as they become increasingly significant in the mundane routines of everyday life.

Using Social Media Data Aggregators to Do Social Research

David Beer
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 10

Abstract: This article asks if it is possible to use commercial data analysis software and digital by-product data to do critical social science. In response this article introduces social media data aggregator software to a social science audience. The article explores how this particular software can be used to do social research. It uses some specific examples in order to elaborate upon the potential of the software and the type of insights it can be used to generate. The aim of the article is to show how digital by-product data can be used to see the social in alternative ways, it explores how this commercial software might enable us to find patterns amongst 'monumentally detailed data'. As such is responds to Andrew Abbott's as yet unresolved eleven year old reflections on the crucial challenges that face the social sciences in a data rich era.

The Hidden Dimensions of the Musical Field and the Potential of the New Social Data

David Beer and Mark Taylor
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 14

Abstract: This article seeks to highlight what might be thought of as the hidden dimensions of the musical field and explores the potential of digital by-product data for illuminating the aspects of musical taste and preference that are difficult to see with traditional social science methods. It suggests that the limitations of existing field analysis create what might be thought of as darkened areas of music consumption that may remain outside of the gaze of the interested social scientist. The paper briefly discusses some of the analytical problems associated with this lack of visibility. In response this article focuses upon the specific example of Last.fm and looks to make use of the by-product data that this particular website accumulates about individuals’ everyday music listening practices. From this specific example the article provides some substantive observations about the contemporary musical field and uses these to offer insights into the potentials and limitations of using by-product data in the analysis of (the musical) field. This article specifically questions the boundaries drawn around genre in the study of field, and looks at how these might be reported upon in alternative ways using new forms of data.