This chapter critically evaluates the literature on digital consumer data and the ways in which it can be used in digital social research. The chapter illuminates how researchers have to conceptualise and negotiate digital data, focusing upon ethical and procedural challenges of employing digital methods.
The chapter draws upon and integrates a broad research literature from sociology, digital media studies, business and marketing, as these have opened up new directions for research design and method. It advocates interdisciplinary approaches to conceptualising what digital data is employing the concept of ‘marketing narratives’ to understand how the new visibilities of consumer data are shaped by related processes of branding and the interactivity of content.
The chapter shows how the capacities of digital technologies present significant challenges for researchers and organisations that have to be carefully negotiated if the potentials of digital consumer data are to be harnessed. In addition, researchers should pay attention to novel issues of ethical responsibility in the context of the longer-term presence of data records.
The chapter offers a set of guidelines for digital social researchers in negotiating the meanings of visible digital consumer data, the ethical and proprietary issues involved in utilising digital methods.
Hardey, M. (2014), "Marketing Narratives: Researching Digital Data, Design and the In/Visible Consumer", Big Data? Qualitative Approaches to Digital Research (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 115-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1042-319220140000013008
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