Social Science Computer Review

Volume 26, No. 3

Fall 2008


Table of Contents



Bloggers at the Gates: Ned Lamont, Blogs, and the Rise of Insurgent Candidates /  Kevin A Pirch

        Abstract: For 18 years, Joseph Lieberman has represented the State of Connecticut in the U.S. Senate, gaining seniority and becoming popular enough in his state and party to be nominated for the Vice Presidency in 2000. However, due to his perceived closeness to President George W. Bush and his support for the war in Iraq, Lieberman faced an unexpected challenge in the Democratic Primary and ultimately lost the party's nomination to political upstart Ned Lamont. A multimillionaire who could finance his own campaign, Lamont was aided in his insurgency by a host of bloggers in Connecticut and across the nation who took it as their mission to defeat Lieberman. This article will examine the role bloggers played in Ned Lamont's primary campaign as sources of financial support, logistical assistance, and as a place for likeminded individuals to find a community to support his candidacy. In this way, blogs became a "virtual political party" for Lamont who was able to create a support system for his candidacy when the entire Democratic establishment was backing Lieberman. This campaign could provide a template for future candidates challenging party establishments, and demonstrates that many of the traditional party functions can be replaced by the internet.

        Keywords: blogs, primary election, campaigns, U.S. Senate


Voters, MySpace and YouTube:  The Impact of Alternative Communication Channels on the 2006 Election Cycle and Beyond / Vassia Gueorguieva

        Abstract: MySpace and YouTube have impacted election campaigns in simple, but significant, ways. These social networking sites represent the next internet generation, which is primarily user-driven, i.e. users contribute as much as they consume. The sites are used by a substantial segment of the US voting age population and have increased the potential for candidate exposure at a low or no cost at all and the ability of campaigns to reach out to the public for campaign contributions and for recruiting volunteers. In addition, they have also provided lesser known candidates with a viable outlet to divulge their message to voters. In conjunction with these benefits, YouTube and MySpace have also posed a new set of challenges to campaign staff, the most important of which is the reduced level of control that campaigns have over the image and message of the candidate, which is of critical importance to election outcomes. This paper will discuss these benefits and challenges and the influence of YouTube and MySpace on the 2006 election and on future election campaigns.

        Keywords: YouTube, MySpace, election campaigns, fundraising, social networking, volunteer recruitment


Grid Computing and Qualitative Social Science / Nigel G. Fielding

        Abstract: Qualitative research is increasingly important in policy-related and applied work as well as in academic work. Grid and High Performance Computing (HPC) technologies promise significant potential returns for qualitative researchers. Tagged >cyber-research= in the USA and >e-Research= in the UK, the application of HPC technologies can potentially enhance the scope, depth and rigour of qualitative inquiry by enabling new data-handling capacities and analytic procedures, new support for work with colleagues based elsewhere, and new facilities to archive, curate and exploit the many kinds of data qualitative researchers use. From these resources also flow new challenges to conventions of privacy and research ethics, data integrity and data protection, and the relations between scientific communities and society. Based on a survey, individual interviews, and group discussions, involving qualitative researchers and computer scientists, this article scans existing applications of Grid/HPC to qualitative research, indicates potential applications, and identifies associated ethical, practical and technological challenges.

        Keywords: Qualitative methodology, Qualitative computing, Grid computing and social research, Cyber-research in social science


Deterrence and Digital Piracy: A Preliminary Examination  of the Role of Viruses / Scott E. Wolfe, George E. Higgins, Catherine D. Marcum

        Abstract: Digital piracy has been shown to be an emerging societal problem. However, research has demonstrated limited techniques that effectively combat digital piracy. The purpose of the present study is to examine the utility of computer viruses in deterring digital piracy. Using responses from a survey of college students, the findings revealed that fear of computer viruses may influence respondents' intentions to engage in digital piracy. The policy implications of this finding are discussed.

        Keywords: digital piracy, deterrence, and computer viruses


The Historical Influence of Computer Use at Work on Income in the Late Twentieth Century / Sylvia E. Peacock

        Abstract: This article offers information on historical shifts of socioeconomic positions caused by the diffusion of computers into the labor market. An account of the effects of using computers at work on gross monthly wages is offered, capturing significant changes over time within two decades (1979-1999). Empirical analyses are based on four large German labor market censuses. Results sustain the theoretical notion that early adopters receive a risk premium for using information technology, supporting the modernization hypothesis. Positive effects of computer training on income levels are found. Large gender income gaps are substantiated. Over time, income premiums for workers in the information segment increase. Indications for the downscaling of computerized jobs in the information segment are detected.

        Keywords: Digital Divide, Income, Historical Trends, Computer Use, Information Segment, Computer Training, Gender Discrimination.


Teamwork Involving Qualitative Data Analysis Software: Striking a Balance between Research Ideals and Pragmatics / Chih Hoong Sin

        Abstract: Increasing sophistication of qualitative data analysis software facilitates its use on larger and more complex projects. Yet the way in which its use is operationalized in a team context is under-examined. This paper explores the use of NUD*ist version 6 (N6) in a large-scale evaluation. The way N6 was used in this evaluation was not merely determined by the functions it contains but by a series of pragmatic decisions resulting from the need to manage the complex logistics of a large, multi-site team. Such dynamics affect the way in which data are understood and interrogated, thus inevitably influencing the nature of evidence created.

        Key words: qualitative data analysis software; NUD*ist; team context; evidence


The Length of Responses to Open-ended Questions: A Comparison of Online and Paper Questionnaires in Terms of a Mode Effect / Martyn Denscombe

        Abstract: This research compares the length of answers to open-ended questions produced by two different kinds of questionnaire - online and paper - and considers the possibility of a mode effect linked with the use of online questionnaires. A survey (n=466) was conducted that involved the random allocation of respondents into two groups who then completed a questionnaire either as a web-based online version or in an 'optical mark recognition' (OMR) paper version. The questionnaires were as near-identical as possible in terms of their structure, layout and content. Overall, the findings revealed that no significant effect was attributable to the mode of questionnaire. Although the online answers to three of four questions appeared to be somewhat longer than those supplied on the paper version, the differences were not statistically significant. Other factors, specifically gender and educational aspirations, appeared to have much more influence on the length of answers to open-ended questions than the mode of delivery per se. Bearing this point in mind, the findings from this research do not provide firm evidence of any difference in the length of responses produced by the two alternative modes of questionnaire delivery.

        Keywords: mode effect, online questionnaires, web based surveys, text data, data quantity


Max Weber and Alfred Schutz: The Theoretical And Methodological Background of the Case-Oriented Quantification Approach Behind winMAX? / Olivier Colins, Eric Broekaert, Stijn Vandevelde, Geert Van Hove

        Abstract: The case-oriented quantification approach behind the software program winMAX is, according to its founder Kuckartz, based on the methodological and theoretical work of Max Weber and Alfred Schutz. This claimed connection is not, however, explained in depth in the author's available scientific literature. This article aims to clarify the methodological and theoretical background to winMAX, with special focus on the influence of Weber and Schutz. It became clear that - in spite of similarities - Weber and Schutz differ in several respects, which raises objections to the claimed connection and puts practical application to the test. More in-depth information is therefore needed in order to apply Kuckartz's case-oriented quantification approach in social research with respect to its theoretical background.

        Keywords: winMAX, case-oriented quantification approach, Max Weber, Alfred Schutz, ideal types, Verstehen



Reports and Communications


Emoticons and online message interpretation / Daantje Derks, Arjan E. R. Bos, & Jasper von Grumbkow

        Abstract: The present study experimentally examines the impact of emoticons on message interpretation among secondary school students (N = 105). Furthermore, perceived motives for emoticon use are examined. Results show that emoticons do have an impact on message interpretation. Emoticons are useful in strengthening the intensity of a verbal message. Furthermore it is possible to create ambiguity and express sarcasm online by varying the valence of the emoticon and the valence of the message. Overall, we can conclude that to a large extent emoticons serve the same functions as actual nonverbal behavior.

        Key words: emoticon, computer-mediated communication, message interpretation, motives.


Book Reviews


Global Politics in the Information Age by M. J. Lacy and P. Wilkin. Manchester / Reviewed by Lucas Walsh


Computer Ethics by John Weckert / Reviewed by Hakikur Rahman