Author: Emma Uprichard
“Recently, Savage and Burrows have argued that one way to invigorate sociology’s ‘empirical crisis’ is to take advantage of live, web based digital transactional data. This paper argues that whilst sociologists do indeed need to engage with this growing digital data deluge, there are longer term risks involved that need to be considered. More precisely, C. Wright Mills’ ‘sociological imagination’ is used as the basis for the kind of sociological research that one might aim for, even within the digital era. In so doing, it is suggested that current forms of engaging with transactional social data are problematic to the sociological imagination because they tend to be ahistorical and focus mainly on ‘now casting’. The ahistorical nature of this genre of digital research, it is argued, necessarily restricts the possibility of developing a serious sociological imagination. In turn, it is concluded, there is a need to think beyond the digitised surfaces of the plastic present and to consider the impact that time and temporality, particularly within the digital arena, have on shaping our sociological imagination” (Emma Uprichard, 2012).