i3 Seminar Analysis of online participation

Organized by Valérie Beaudouin and Alexandre Mallard

Link to i3 website

The seminar aims to develop current reflections about the use of digital data in the analysis of online practices and forms of participation. With the explosion of online communication, a richer and greater amount of information has become available to researchers to document practices in a variety of domains: consumption, political behavior, production of knowledge, sociability, democratic participation, controversy, etc. Evidence of practices and of communication occurring in these domains are now available on various media: forum, discussions lists, blogs, online press, social networks, dedicated exchange platforms, etc. Over the last few years, the use of these data for research purposes has become widespread but there is still little debate on the compilation of corpora, the methods of analysis and the articulation between digital analyses and more classical fieldwork in social science.

This seminar aims at being a meeting place for the sharing of knowledge, practices and know-how, for researchers from a variety of backgrounds who are confronted with these common research issues. It is intended to discuss research conducted in a variety of perspectives (sociology of uses, controversy study, analyses of social networks, pragmatic investigation, innovation follow-up, etc.) while striving to articulate two sides of the research work which sometimes are in tension or remain too separate: on the one hand the collection and editing of digital materials, on the other hand their mobilization and interpretation within specific analytical frameworks. The proposed mode of discussion allows for a presentation of past or current research results, while giving the opportunity to “enter” the data and the approaches, and to scrutinize the tools and the know-how chosen to exploit them. The focus is not to set up a training workshop in the strict sense of the word, but rather to endeavour to make visible the use of the necessary software, corpus-building operations, and other constructions achieved by using whatever comes to hand. The point is to open a discussion on common issues about these approaches that tend to remain confined to ordinary work and to the concrete vicissitudes of research:

  • Corpus-building steps: What archiving methods to protect the data? How to optimize the articulation between the building of corpora and their analysis? What legal framework for the use of digital corpora? What status for information that claims to be publicly available and accessible for everyone?
  • Methods of analysis: How to report the various sorting operations and selection of “interesting information” out of “raw data”? How to reach stable results through triangulation? How to by-pass the sensitivity of the results obtained with the configuration of the analysis software?
  • Combined use of methodological approaches: What are the problems raised with the combined use of online data and data obtained through other means (survey, documentation, observation, etc.)? Etc.

Dates and venues

Five sessions of the seminar will be scheduled in 2019-2020. They will take place on Thursday morning from 10:30 am to 12 noon, alternately at the École des Mines 60 boulevard St Michel 75005 Paris, and at Télécom Paris, 19 place Marguerite Perey 91120 Palaiseau (travel information to get to Télécom Paris).

Programme for the year 2019-2020

January 30, 2020, at Ecole des Mines, Room Saint Jacques

David Chavalarias, CNRS Research Director, Centre d’Analyses de Mathématiques Sociales (CAMS), Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)

Le militantisme politique à l’ère des réseaux sociaux : le points de vue des macroscopes sociaux

Political activism in the age of social networks: the point of view of social macroscopes

February 27,2020, at Ecole des Mines, Room Saint Jacques

Eric Dagiral, Lecturer in sociology at Université Paris Descartes, researcher at the Centre de recherche sur les liens sociaux – Cerlis, and Anne-Sylvie Pharabod, Researcher in the SENSE department of Orange Labs

Modes d’engagement, de partage et de sociabilité associés aux pratiques de quantification du soi

Modes of engagement, sharing and sociability associated with self-quantification practices

March 26, 2020, at Ecole des Mines, Room Saint Jacques

Benjamin Loveluck, Lecturer in sociology at Télécom Paris, IP Paris and associate researcher at Centre d’Études et de Recherches de Sciences Administratives et Politiques – CERSA (CNRS-Paris 2)

Le petit chat est mort. Dimensions numériques d’une mobilisation liée à la cause animale

The kitten is dead. Digital dimensions of a mobilization related to the animal cause

April 23 2020, at Télécom Paris, Room 3A306

Ivaylo Petev, CNRS Researcher, Director of the Centre de recherche en économie et statistique/CREST’s quantitative sociology department, and Sander Wagner, Lecturer-researcher at the CREST quantitative sociology department

Discriminer en ligne: l’ordre de préférence des usagers parisiens d’Airbnb selon le genre et l’origine du prénom de l’hôte ou du locataire

Discriminating online: the order of preference of Parisian Airbnb users according to the gender and origin of the host’s or tenant’s first name

May 14, 2020, at Télécom Paris, Room 3A306

Camille Girard-Chanudet, Doctoral researcher in sociology at the Centre d’étude des mouvements sociaux – CEMS-EHESS, her research interests focus on justice and artificial intelligence

À l’ombre des rencontres. La fabrique des données personnelles sur OkCupid

In the shadow of the encounters. The manufacturing of personal data on OkCupid



The purpose of the seminar is to discuss online participation research as closely as possible with the links between data processing and subsequent interpretation. The following animation mode has been designed for this purpose:  participation research with the links between data processing and interpretation.

Prior to the seminar session, a text, already published or in the process of writing, will be made available on the seminar website.

A half-hour presentation by one or several guests will be centered, not on the argument (the participants should have read the text beforehand and thus already know the argument), but on the “making of”: specificities of data engineering implemented, recording devices / corpus-building process, analysis strategies, tools mobilized, etc.

The purpose of the collective discussion is to explore the link between data processing and analyses, interpretations, arguments to which they give rise.

Seminar programme in 2017-2018 »

Seminar programme in 2018-2019 »