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February 2015 - Selecting, Scraping, and Sampling Big Data Sets from the Internet: Fan Blogs as Exemplar

Webb, Gibson, Wang, Chang & Thompson-Hayes

Mad(ly) Passionate for Grounded Theory and Mad Men

There are only a few months left until the highly anticipated final season of TV show Mad Men. And since this is the month of love, we’re not ashamed to say that the series’ captivating look at the glamourous world of advertising has won our hearts. But what if you mix Mad Men with social research methods and online media? Well, then we’re positively smitten!

A group of authors (Webb, L. M., Chang, H. C., Hayes, M. T., Smith, M. M., & Gibson, D. M.) has done just that, using Mad Men fan blog commentary as the basis of a thorough case study to explain how researchers decide precisely what text to gather from the Internet as well as how they identify the locations of that content, and how to get the data from the Internet into text files for analysis. Then, they implemented a number of qualitative methods, including grounded theory analysis, thematic analysis and axial coding to interpret what they found.

This is a highly informative article for those interested in qualitative methodologies, those who wish to practice random sampling and the analysis of large data sets; for the Sociology student or instructor practicing grounded theory in an academic setting. And lastly, for those of us who work in the social sciences but count the days until our next visit to Sterling Cooper & Partners, this is a chance to combine the two!

Hot topics

This month's curated cases are on the subject of Gender Inequality in the Workplace.

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