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Event: Data and Phenomena in Social Inquiry

Event date September 29, 2014 - September 30, 2014
Location University of Helsinki
Host(s) TINT, University of Helsinki
Event website/information

Data and Phenomena in Social Inquiry


  • Pertti Alasuutari (Tampere)
  • Tuukka Kaidesoja (Turku)
  • Martina Merz (Helsinki)
  • Attilia Ruzzene (Rotterdam)
  • Päivi Seppälä (Helsinki)
  • Jukka Törrönen (Stockholm)
  • Petri Ylikoski (Helsinki)

The Helsinki-Copenhagen Colloquium in Evidence in Social Enquiry is a series of workshops that bring together philosophers of science and social scientists to explore how social scientific data provides evidence for claims about social phenomena, how social scientists justify their interpretations and explanations, and how social scientific research can serve as evidence for policy purposes. The series will especially, but not exclusively, focus on so-called qualitative research. The aim is to start a debate that creatively combines modern philosophy of science with reflective understanding of actual social scientific research practices in order to better understand the nature of social scientific knowledge.

The second workshop ”Data and Phenomena in Social Inquiry” will discuss the relation between data and phenomena in qualitative social science. All empirical research collects and analyzes data in order to make inferences about the real world phenomena. The data used by social scientists is diverse. For example, it might be found, like historical documents and archaeological artifacts, or produced by the researcher, like interviews or ethnographic observations. Similarly, the data can be analyzed in many different ways. Finally, the phenomena the social scientists are interested are also diverse: they might be unique historical events, forms of social life, social mechanisms underlying social processes, or regularities about social life within certain context. However, it is always crucial to consider the processes that produced the data as assumptions concerning these processes affect what can be inferred about the phenomena. This is the focus of our workshop. The idea is bring together philosophers and social scientists to discuss questions like: How do assumptions about the phenomenon of interest influence the data social scientist want? How is the data evaluated and how do these evaluations form a basis for judgments about the reliability, relevance and biases of the data? How do theoretical assumptions guide the inferences from data to phenomena?

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