AAAI Publications, Seventh International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media

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The Limited Usefulness of Social Media and Digital Trace Data for Urban Social Research
Robert Goodspeed

Last modified: 2013-06-28


Drawing on the literature on social science methodology, this paper argues the potential research contributions from studies using social media data are limited. These data sources are conceptualized as unobtrusive measures, a longstanding category of information for social research. Although useful in some respects, digital unobtrusive measures are limited by their content poverty, focus on espoused theory, and positivist assumptions about social reality. To conclude, the paper describes the limitations of all forms of social research, and the need for mixed methods and action research.


Social Media, Unobtrusive Measures

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