Sociology/ Social Science/ Culture Studies…Humanities?

This might be a stupid question, but it just popped up into my head and I was wondering ever since. To clarify what the terms mean and how they are connected, I had a quick look and summarized my thoughts below.

Social science as the umbrella term: aspects of human society. Sociology is one part of social science and focuses on society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and aspects of culture associated with everyday life, meaning it focuses on aspects of human society. Somewhere I found the info that social science primarily focus on “in the now”. Whereas humanities focus on the product of human society (literature, arts, languages, philosophy…).

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Infrastructure studies, platform studies, software studies, media studies, (critical) data studies – what are they about?!

I’ve been looking in several traditions and fields, some that are recurring are infrastructure studies, software studies, media studies, data studies (as well as the prefix ‘critical’ so several of them). I wanted to have a brief, and probably superficial look at what they are about and how I can demarcate them from one another. I assume that all of them are interdisciplinary, possibly complicating this endeavour 😀 But let’s give it a try:


Infrastructure Studies:

Infrastructure studies, emerging from Science and Technology studies and information sciences, focuses on analyzing large and essential sociotechnical systems. The analysis can entail telecommunication networks, power grids and possibly sewer systems, but also digital infrastructure. Overall infrastructure studies explore widely accessible and shared systems and services that are often provided by governments in the public interest. According to (Plantin et al., 2018) infrastructure studies developed along 2 lines; the first focuses on a historical perspective of large systems while the second highlights the sociology of infrastructure, also highlighting human elements such as work practices, habits, organizational culture etc. Hence, Infrastructure Studies simultaneously addresses the technical, social, and organizational aspects of the development, usage, and maintenance of infrastructures in local communities as well as global arenas. Further, this second line of thought often associated with Star and Bowker has highlighted key features of infrastructure such as ubiquity, reliability, invisibility, gateways, breakdown as well as infrastructure as learned in communities of practice.

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My Journey as PhD- The Importance of Perspective

My point of view on things, situations, people etc. is very personal and usually implicit. I am not always aware of my perspective on things, even though I try to reflect more – also because interpretative/qualitative researchers need to in their research.

However, developing the awareness of my perspective is not always easy, especially if it is entangled with some features of imposter syndrome. I’ve always tried to see the good and the positive in a situation that might be negative at first sight, and I think that I am relatively good at it- EXCEPT when it comes to my academic career and my PhD.

To give some context: I am part of several projects and I am supposed to “lead” an article (whatever the hell that might entail) and to present at two conferences soonish. I haven’t had focused supervision in months and I can tell you I have been PANICKING about this regularly. My perspective on this has been, that I have not made enough progress that my supervisors would want to spend time on my work. Well, I CHOSE to see it in that way.

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Science and Technology Studies (STS)

STS is EVERYWHERE! But what exactly IS STS?! Where does it come from? How can I situate myself in the field??

To answer these questions I have started to read the following book and will write down some notes: Sismondo, Sergio (2004). An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. Blackwell.


Introduction

STS: the intersection of different fields (sociology, history, philosophy, anthropology).

Previously two streams, have now been merged:

  • S& TS (science and technology studies): science and technology understood as a discursive, social and material activity, later on, concerned with legitimate places of expertise, science in public spheres, place of public interest in scientific decision making
  • STS (Science, Technology and Society): understands social issues linked to the development in science and technology, those developments could be harnessed to democratic /egalitarian ideals. à later on concerned with understanding the dynamics of science, technology and medicine.
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Research Paradigms 1: Positivism, Post-Positivsm, Critical Theory & Constructivism

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 105-117). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Today I am going to write a brief recap on paradigms and critical realism. The basis for this is an article written by Guba and Lincoln, however, there are several versions of it and I am not sure if THIS is the right source. The version that I read looks primarily at 4 different paradigms; positivist, post-positivist, critical theory and constructivist. I know, though, that there are I think newer versions of this article, which for example also talk about axiology and a participatory paradigm.

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My Journey as a PhD- Visual Snow Syndrome

Today I am going to talk about something personal again. Last year I’ve been diagnosed with Visual Snow Syndrome (VSS) and I wanted to share my experiences.

First of all, what is VSS?

“Visual snow (VS) is a recently identified neurologic condition consisting of a constant positive visual disturbance described as uncountable tiny dots over the entire visual field. In addition to the static, patients very often report visual symptoms such as palinopsia, entoptic phenomena, photophobia, and nyctalopia”. (Puledda et al., 2020)

How I found out:

In retrospect I cannot pinpoint when exactly I GOT the symptoms of VSS, I might have had them all my life but I all of a sudden noticed them. I think I started to notice the symptoms after a quite stressful period when it became really difficult to read a certain book. Difficult is an understatement, it became impossible. The book used a particularly small, narrow font and basically no line spacing. What I saw was kind of a nervous picture, the lines and letter were kind of wobbling around and there was some sense of erratic movement that I could not pinpoint. In addition to this, things felt as if they were “burnt” into my retina. We all know this when we look at the sun too long and then look at something else, but I had it with everything that was slightly darker and in front of a mono-coloured surface. Moreover, these afterimages did not last 2-3 seconds but 30ish. I also noticed that looking at screens became difficult as if there was always something “in the way” and I tried to blink and squint but it did not help. Also, it was present 24/7, I COULD NEVER REST EVEN WHEN I CLOSED MY EYES!!

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Digital Methods for Social Scientists

I participated in a Data Sprint a couple of weeks ago- for the first time ever! While it wasn’t exactly what I imagined it would be, it certainly taught me A LOT! In addition to this, I came across numerous new digital methods that I might or might not use, but I wanted to create list of them so that I do not forget them….and it might be an inspiration for others as well!

I’ve decided to add a couple of tools that I use in my PhD project and my intention is to update the list as well J


App Traffic: A tool to capture, inspect and playback the traffic of mobile apps. You have to register, but I think it is for free. As of January 2021, there are some limitations with regard to the compatible android versions.

AppTraffic (uni-siegen.de)

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My Journey as a PhD- Reflection 1st year

I’ve talked a bit about my background in the last post…or got it out of my system 😀 I mean there is a reason why some people claim that journaling helps so, let’s see about that J Moving on to my reflections on my first year as a PhD, which basically consisted of exclusively negative EVERYTHING!

However, let me start from the beginning:

Well, the first warning sign should have been how I reacted to getting a PhD position. I do not know why, it had been the goal I have been working towards for a long time, but when I got the news it was a very short-lived “Yayy!”, but it felt more as if it was more of a “ticking the box” moment of achieving something, that anything else. Like, ok did that, what is next now? I do not want to sound ungrateful here. Believe me, I know what incredible achievement it is, or at least I know how I should feel about it but I kind of keep this…hidden? A bit as if I think, meh, anyone could have done it. It is not REALLY an achievement. You HAVE to do MORE! PUSH yourself…

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My Journey as a PhD- Starting Point and Background

Alright, I planned to start a blog a year ago…when I actually started my PhD, but it took my nearly one year to create one. Nevertheless, I want to talk about my experiences and feelings about different stages during my PhD so far. It might help others to see that they are not alone but is also thought to help me reflect on my path during this experience.

First off; how I experience my PhD highly depends on my background and the context I am in. I have recently listened to an interesting podcast about identity which raised many questions and also got me thinking. Let’s get started!

Last week marked 1 ½ year into my PhD, and I thought I would write a bit about my experiences during the first year, specifically about the start of my PhD. I know, kind of late, but yeah…time flies right? So, this is more of a personal blogpost…maybe also for me to read in a couple of years to see and reflect on what has happened since then. Well, I hope things have happened, especially with me feeling like an imposter (SPOILER!).

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All Data are Local by Yanni Loukissas: Summary and Review

In the seven-chapter long book, Loukissas sets out to demystify the notion of digital universalism by emphasizing data and their local connections. Therefore, the guiding question for the book is: How do local conditions matter for understanding data in everyday practice? Simply put, All data are local is the title of the book, but also the main statement that guides the book and is one- if not the most important- take-away messages of the book.

Data universalism : the ideology that leads us to falsely believe that despise our varying circumstances, “once online, all users could be granted the same agencies on a single network, all differences could dissolve, and everyone could be treated alike” citing Anita Chan. This perspective might institute a new form of colonialism, where practitioners at the periphery have to conform to set standards and expectations of a dominant technological culture (p.10)

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