About the Blog

Information graphics, distinct from photography and video, use visual means (charts, graphs, network webs, diagrams, etc) to concisely convey and enliven both simple and complex relationships drawn from data. Information graphics have long been a part of making sense of social science data, especially when the data is being presented to wider audiences. The use of information graphics is increasing in the digital age where much information is consumed via full color displays.

Creating coherent, compelling information graphics is left largely to individual practitioners. There is very little training available for social scientists who would like to have basic graphic design skills in their repertoire. Graphic Sociology analyzes the visual presentation of social data from the perspective of social science practice. Each blog consists of a chart, table, interactive graphic or other visual display of sociologically relevant data and an analysis of the successes and weaknesses of the graphic.

The work on this blog supports the idea that public scholarship can utilize information graphics to communicate effectively with publics outside of academia as well as with our colleagues. Just like writing well, constructing clear information graphics is an iterative process that requires time, practice, and peer review. These elements, as well as basic instruction in the production techniques, are lacking in both undergraduate and graduate education within the social sciences. This blog is a jumping off place for thinking about how to incorporate information graphics into the communication process, how to use them to advance research, and a friendly place for scholars and others to start thinking about the social life of information graphics.

About copyright and fair use

The graphics are pulled from timely news sources and social science journals as well as from books and older sources. Some entries feature books about the design of information graphics, announcements about upcoming conferences, and other resources for design practitioners. I occasionally post graphics I design myself, not because they are better than other graphics (often they are decidedly unsophisticated) but because it is easier for me to discuss the relationship between data gathering and data representation when the entire process has been transparent for me. I retain the copyright for any of the graphics I have created but others are free to use them so long as I receive credit (Copyright Laura Norén). Legally, the digital redistribution of the images for which I do not hold copyright is permissible under the Fair Use Doctrine.

About the author

Graphic Sociology is edited and written by me, Laura Norén. I am a PhD candidate in sociology at New York University. My research interests focus on the impact of design on social behaviors like collaboration, particularly as they move back and forth into and out of computer-mediated space. I have worked as a graphic designer and hold undergraduate degrees in Comparative Media Studies and the History Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture from MIT.

If you are still curious about me, feel free to check out my profiles at academia.edu or LinkedIn.

About getting involved

Graphic Sociology encourages readers to submit graphics that they would like to see featured on the blog. However, I have already written about why I’m not a fan of long scroll graphics so please don’t be sad if I decline to run the long scroll graphic you love. If you would like to be a guest blogger, please send me the graphic you’d like to blog about and a brief synopsis of what you would like to write.

Send all inquiries to: graphicsociology@thesocietypages.org