David Grusky: Should scholars own data? The high cost of neoliberal qualitative scholarship

Datum: 6 oktober 2022
Tid: 13:00-15:00

Place: At the Institute for Futures Studies (Holländargatan 13, Stockholm), or online

Welcome to this seminar with David Grusky, Professor of Sociology at Stanford University.
The seminar is jointly organized by the Institute for Analytical Sociology and the Institute for Futures Studies.

Register to participate at the Institute for Futures Studies
Register to participate online

If qualitative work were to be rebuilt around open science principles of transparency and reproducibility, what types of institutional reforms are needed?

It’s not enough to mimic open science movements within the quantitative field by focusing on problems of data archiving and reanalysis. The more fundamental problem is a legal-institutional one: The field has cut off the development of transparent, reproducible, and cumulative qualitative research by betting on a legal-institutional model in which qualitative scholars are incentivized to collect data by giving them ownership rights over them.

This neoliberal model of privatized qualitative research has cut off the development of public-use data sets of the sort that have long been available for quantitative data. If a public-use form of qualitative research were supported, it would not only make qualitative research more open (i.e., transparent, reproducible, cumulative) but would also expand its reach by supporting new uses.

The American Voices Project – the first nationally-representative open qualitative data set in the US – is a radical test of this hypothesis. It is currently being used to validate (or challenge!) some of the most famous findings coming out of conventional “closed” qualitative research, to serve as an “early warning system” to detect new crises and developments in the U.S., to build new approaches to taking on poverty, the racial wealth gap, and other inequities, and to monitor public opinion in ways far more revealing than conventional forced-choice surveys.

The purpose of this talk is to discuss the promise – and pitfalls – of this new open-science form of qualitative research as well as opportunities to institutionalize it across the world. 

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