This project explores how and to what extent British civil society organisations harness data and social research. These organisations, broadly conceived as non-governmental groups having a public presence and expressing certain ethical, policy, or social views, have a stake in identifying and using research to achieve their missions. Buzzwords like ‘Big Data’ and ‘evidence based research’ enjoy currency across several academic disciplines and popular media. Besides the absolute size of datasets, ‘bigness’ also refers to the idea that analysing vast amounts of information can open novel perspectives on complex issues.
By interrogating the perceptions and assumptions underpinning civil society use of research, this project critically examine what kinds of civil societies are envisioned and valorised over others as particular meanings are attached to concepts like ‘Big Data’, ‘data-driven research’, and ‘evidence’ in the context of British politics and policy.