Ghosts of white methods? The challenges of Big Data research in exploring racism in digital context

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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The paper explores the potential and limitations of big data for researching racism on social media. Informed by critical data studies and critical race studies, the paper discusses challenges of doing big data research and the problems of the so called ‘white method’. The paper introduces the following three types of approach, each with a different epistemological basis for researching racism in digital context: 1) using big data analytics to point out the dominant power relations and the dynamics of racist discourse, 2) complementing big data with qualitative research and 3) revealing new logics of racism in datafied context. The paper contributes to critical data and critical race studies by enhancing the understanding of the possibilities and limitations of big data research. This study also highlights the importance of contextualisation and mixed methods for achieving a more nuanced comprehension of racism and discrimination on social media and in large datasets.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBig Data and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Big data
  • critical race studies
  • racism
  • social media
  • topic modelling
  • white methods
  • communication

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Cultural Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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