Data & Society Workshop: Lessons From The Field

Call for Applications:

Click Here to Apply

On October 30, 2017, Data & Society will host a workshop in NYC on how data-driven technologies intersect with society. For this workshop, we invite researchers who do empirical work using qualitative methods to submit papers. We are looking for researchers who are studying socio-technical systems, practices involving technology, and social transformations that sit at the intersection of technology and society.

The structure of the D&S Workshop series is designed to maximize scholarly thinking about the evolving and societally important issues surrounding data-driven technologies.  Participants will be asked to read three full papers in advance of the event and prepare comments for intensive discussion. Some participants will be asked to be discussants of papers, where they will lead the conversation and engage the room. Authors will not present their work, but rather participate in critical discussion with the assembled group about the paper, with explicit intent of making the work stronger and more interdisciplinary.

Participation in this event is limited. Those who are interested in participating should apply by August 25, 2017. This event is not open to practitioners or observers; it is designed to help researchers be reflective and candid about works-in-progress.

Please note: This is not a workshop about methodology. We organized our last two workshops around topics (Work and Labor; Propaganda and Media Manipulation), but let the methodologies run the gamut. We are limiting this workshop to qualitative methodologies but inviting papers on any topic that sits at the intersection of technology and society.

That said, the goal is to invite papers and researchers focused on insights discerned from qualitative methodologies, not work or conversations about the practice of doing qualitative research.

Qualitative Studies of Socio-Technical Systems

In a world where technology intersects with society in countless ways, how can we make sense of people’s practices, organizational norms, social values, and cultural logics? Qualitative methodologies offer a unique approach for understanding what, how, and why. Drawing on different theoretical and disciplinary traditions, the work of ethnographers and other qualitatively minded scholars often offers a new way of seeing, challenging normative ideas and providing novel frameworks for understanding technology and society. Our goal with this workshop is to see the field of technology studies through the lens of important emergent qualitative work.

The range of fieldsites and research questions appropriate for this event is wide. The only requirements for participation are that 1) you must be a qualitative researcher; 2) your research questions must address an important problem at the intersection of technology and society.

Example projects that might fit at this workshop:

  • Interviews with data scientists examining their approach to accountability
  • An ethnography of online gaming communities and their meme-making practices
  • A qualitative study of personalized learning implementations
  • A combo archival and social analysis of financialization of tech industry practices

These examples are by no means exhaustive, but intended to provide a flavor of the kind of research projects that might be of interest. We are especially interested in strange outliers and unexpected studies.

Participation requirements

This event is first and foremost an opportunity to collectively think and help construct a field. Although this event is designed to bring together 30-40 researchers, only 12 papers will be workshopped. Yet, everyone who attends is expected to be an active participant and contribute to a rich conversation. We believe that it is through active engagement with other scholars around research that new insights can emerge. In other words, this event is designed to be the kind of intense intellectual engagement that made you fall in love with being a researcher in the first place.

All participants are required to read three papers in advance of the event and come ready to offer constructively critical feedback. We want researchers to constructively spar with and challenge one another to strengthen ourselves across the board. This is not an event for passive attendance, but an opportunity to engage each other substantively.


The day will be organized into three time slots, each 75 minutes long. One paper will be workshopped in each session. Multiple sessions will run in parallel so there will be a total of ~12 papers, but each participant will only be responsible for reading and engaging with 3. Within each group, a discussant will open with a critique of the paper before inviting participants to share their feedback. (If you participate in this event, you may be asked to be a discussant on one paper.) All are expected to share feedback, with author response towards the end of the session.


The event will take place on October 30, 2017, and will run from 8:45am to 6pm.  Paper sessions will run until 4pm; afterwards, there will be a reception for all participants.

Unfortunately, we lack the funding to support travel for this event this year. We will cover the costs of breakfast and lunch at the event. We are also happy to provide a formal invitation for participation/“speaking” to anyone who may need it to secure their own funding.

Application to participate

You do not need to submit a paper to participate in this event, but you still need to apply by August 25, 2017.

Because the paper submission date is only a month after the application deadline, you should only apply as an author if you have a paper that you’re actively writing right now and will be ready to share a draft with others by October 2, 2017. If you aren’t already working on this paper, you probably aren’t in a good position to workshop it at this event. Appropriate papers may be a work-in-progress book chapter or a journal article. (Full-length books are a bit too much for this event, so if you’re writing a book, think about the chapter that you most want to get feedback on.)

To apply as an author, please submit the following:

  1. Name, affiliation, title, email address, discipline.
  2. Big research question you’re seeking to answer with your research.
  3. Paper title + 100-250 word abstract.
  4. The current half-baked, thick-outline, total mess of the paper.**

** We are asking for the disaster of a paper to understand where you are with the piece now, and the arguments you intend to make, so that we can appropriately match you to a discussant. We won’t share this version with anyone (pinkie-swear).

Please note: All co-authors for papers must apply separately. If your co-author doesn’t apply, we will assume that s/he is not interested in attending the workshop. It will be hard to add additional participants later so make sure your co-authors apply if they want to attend.

To apply as a participant/discussant, please submit the following:

  1. Name, affiliation, title, email address, discipline.
  2. Big research question you’re seeking to answer with your research.
  3. 100-250 word description of your research.


Application Deadline: August 25, 2017
Selection Decisions: September 1, 2017
Full Paper Deadline: October 2, 2017
Workshop: October 30, 2017