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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Political Sciences and the Big Data Challenge. From Big Data in Politics to the Politics of Big Data

Cyber Politics
Political Methodology
Political Participation
Social Movements
Political Sociology
Social Media
Political Activism
Section Number
Section Chair
Elena Pavan
Università degli Studi di Trento
Section Co-Chair
Alice Mattoni
Università di Bologna

This Section aims to open a much-needed space within the ECPR context for developing a critical and informed reflection on the multi-faceted nexus between Big Data and political science. It understands Big Data not solely in terms of large-scale datasets that require us to tune our research practices. More radically, it starts from a conceptualization of Big Data as a complex set of cultural, political and scientific knowledge practices that challenge the traditional modes in which research questions are posed and framed, analyses are performed, and results are communicated to the public and thus affect public discourse and debates. Consistently, the Section comprises a set of Panels that aim to investigate two interrelated aspects. On the one hand, Panels will engage with how Big Data are leveraging our understanding of political dynamics within complex societies. In this respect, the Section will consider applications of Big Data in connection to public opinion and institutional politics (party dynamics, political communications, etc.) as well as in relation to the study of contemporary forms of collective action and unconventional political participation (social movements, digital activism and the like). On the other hand, Panels will develop a specific take on Big Data, considering how they become a contested research and political terrain, and thus inviting critical reflections on methodological and epistemological implications but also on the power dynamics that entwine with the increased datification of our societies. In this sense, this Section offers a unique occasion to foster the convergence of scholars and researchers currently working on the value of Big Data for studying politics but also on the politics of Big Data themselves. With this aim in mind, this Section will welcome Panels and Papers employing different theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches on Big Data, with a single-case or a comparative multinational and/or multiplatform perspective. The following themes are of particular interest of this
Section: Big data, public opinion and institutional politics; Big data and unconventional political participations; Big Data epistemology and its implications for political sciences: and Big data and dataification as a political terrain of struggle.

Alice Mattoni is Assistant Professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore.
She investigates media practices and grassroots politics. Her work has been published in top-ranked international journals and she is the author of a monograph for Ashgate. She currently serves on the Steering Committee of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Participation and Mobilization. She has organized and chaired two Sections, at the Reykjavik (2011) and Bordeaux (2013) ECPR General Conferences.

Elena Pavan is Assistant Professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore. She studies the relationships between collective action and social media especially from a methodological perspective. She has published in top-ranked international journals and a monograph for Lexington Publications. She currently serves on the Steering Committee of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Networks, for which she organized and chaired Panels at Bordeaux, Glasgow and Prague ECPR General Conferences.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P004A Paradigm Shift for Political Science? Discussing Big Data Epistemology and its Implication for Political Studies View Panel Details
P026Big Data and Political Participation View Panel Details
P027Big Data as a Political Terrain: Deconstructing and Approaching Critically Datafication View Panel Details
P186Intersections between Big Data, Policy, and Governance View Panel Details
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