Professor David Grusky (Stanford University)
Should Scholars Own Data? The High Cost of Neoliberal Qualitative Scholarship
Friday, 7 October 2022
at 10:00–11:30 (UTC+3)
Language Centre, Festive Hall (Fabianinkatu 26) and online via Zoom
If qualitative work were to be rebuilt around open science principles of transparency and reproducibility, what types of institutional reforms are needed? It’s not enough to mimic open science movements within the quantitative field by focusing on problems of data archiving and reanalysis. The more fundamental problem is a legal-institutional one: The field has cut off the development of transparent, reproducible, and cumulative qualitative research by betting on a legal-institutional model in which qualitative scholars are incentivized to collect data by giving them ownership rights over them. This neoliberal model of privatized qualitative research has cut off the development of public-use data sets of the sort that have long been available for quantitative data. If a public-use form of qualitative research were supported, it would not only make qualitative research more open (i.e., transparent, reproducible, cumulative) but would also expand its reach by supporting new uses.
The American Voices Project – the first nationally-representative open qualitative data set in the US – is a radical test of this hypothesis. It is currently being used to validate (or challenge!) some of the most famous findings coming out of conventional “closed” qualitative research, to serve as an “early warning system” to detect new crises and developments in the U.S., to build new approaches to taking on poverty, the racial wealth gap, and other inequities, and to monitor public opinion in ways far more revealing than conventional forced-choice surveys. The purpose of this talk is to discuss the promise – and pitfalls – of this new open-science form of qualitative research as well as opportunities to institutionalize it across the world.
David Grusky is Edward Ames Edmonds Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Professor of Sociology, Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and Director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, and coeditor of Pathways Magazine. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, corecipient of the 2004 Max Weber Award, founder of the Cornell University Center for the Study of Inequality, and a former Presidential Young Investigator.
His recent books include Inequality in the 21st Century (with Jasmine Hill, 2017), Social Stratification (with Kate Weisshaar, 2014), Occupy the Future (with Douglas McAdam, Robert Reich, and Debra Satz, 2012), The New Gilded Age (with Tamar Kricheli-Katz, 2011), and The Great Recession (with Bruce Western and Chris Wimer, 2011).
To participate, on-site or online, and receive access to the Zoom meeting, please register via E-form by 6 October.
This talk is organized in collaboration with Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) and Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ).