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Social media, digital methods and critical security studies

Downing, Joseph (2023) Social media, digital methods and critical security studies. In: New Security Challenges. New Security Challenges. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 71-108.

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Identification Number: 10.1007/978-3-031-20734-1_3


This chapter has two main parts. The first part of this chapter delves into the intersection between methods, methodologies, critical security studies and social media analysis. This is a large undertaking that undoubtedly warrants more attention as time passes, critical security studies advances, social media continues to proliferate and new social and political events unfold. As such, while international relations and critical security studies have made significant strides in recent decades to not only diversify methods and approaches within a highly conservative discipline such as international relations, much more needs to be done to recognise that social media studies, communications technology-based methods “count” (Aradau, Huysmans et al. in Critical security methods: New frameworks for analysis, Routledge, 2015) as valuable research subjects. However, approaching social media analysis is far from simple. The populations sampled are highly unrepresentative and the enduring “digital divides” (Ali in Harvard Human Rights Journal 24:185–220, 2011; Cullen in Online Information Review 25:311–320, 2001; Dijk in Poetics 34:221–235, 2006) present some specific questions for critical security studies and its much troubled “emancipatory” commitments and potential. This chapter also seeks to shed some light on the changeable and vexing question of data access as much important and insightful data that could shed important lights into evolving areas of security on social media are off limits to researchers, or disappear before they can be captured. The second part of this chapter sets out some methodological notes on the operationalisation of some key methods for examining critical security questions with a range of digital methods. Many of these are results of the to and fro “methodological “bricolage” (Aradau, Huysmans et al. in Critical security methods: New frameworks for analysis, Routledge, 2015) familiar to critical security studies where methods require experimentation and re-balancing to better tailor them to specific critical security questions. This examines social network analysis, netnographic approaches and the intersection of social media and the discursive turn in security studies, including the application of thematic analysis to critical security questions. None of this, however, should be interpreted as the final word on digital methods and critical security as the ever-increasing range of platforms, approaches and intersections of security and technology will require scholars to constantly work to develop their own method and methodological approaches.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2023 11:00
Last Modified: 26 May 2024 05:09

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