Skip to content
Dr Wil Chivers

Dr Wil Chivers

Research Associate, WISERD

School of Social Sciences

Email:
chiverswg1@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 5846
Location:
2.07, 38 Park Place, 38 Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3BB

I am a Research Associate based in the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD). Since 2015 I have worked across the Civil Society research centre, exploring the relationship between engagement with social media and civil society. This has included research into the use of social media by social movements and during instances of collective and industrial action. Presently I am leading research on the platform economy - including an ethnographic study of cycle couriers in Cardiff - and alternative forms of work and organisation in the form of platform cooperativism.

I am also drawing on an interest in developing innovative methodologies to examine the potential that social media and digital research methods can bring to this field. This has included content and social network analysis of Twitter data using Gephi, COSMOS and NodeXL and mobile digital methods such as GPS mapping and photography.

Broadly, my research interests centre around digital society and the impact of new technologies on people and places. My PhD thesis explored the changing landscape of digital surveillance and resistance and developed theories of social control and nodal governance. I have a background in criminology and sociology and prior to taking up my current position in WISERD, worked on ESRC/EPSRC-funded research investigating business-related cybercrime in the UK.

Teaching Social Network Analysis on Gephi

Education:

  • 2016: PhD (Social Sciences) Cardiff University, UK
  • 2011: MSc Social Science Research Methods, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2008: BScEcon Criminology and Sociology (Joint Honours), Cardiff University, UK

As you will no doubt have concluded from my profile so far, I have spent the majority of the last 14 years studying, living and working in Cardiff. In moved here for my undergraduate degree in 2005 and, a three-month internship in London in 2013 aside, have lived here ever since. This is not only because Cardiff University and the School of Social Sciences are great places to study and work; Wales and the Welsh people are wonderful in equal measure. Assuming I continue to live in Cardiff, by 2024 I will have spent half of my life in England and half in Wales, at which point I will need to ask myself some testing questions about my loyalties to both the England and Wales national rugby teams.

Professional memberships

  • Open Rights Group
  • Surveillance Studies Network

Academic positions

  • 2015 - Present: Research Associate, WISERD
  • 2014-2015: Research Assistant, CEReS project
  • 2013: Social Research Intern, Sentencing Council for England and Wales
  • 2011-2014: Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, SOCSI
  • 2010-2016: MSc/PhD, 1+3 ESRC-funded
  • 2008-2009: Research Assistant (PT), Wales Rural Observatory

Speaking engagements

Conferences:

  • 'The Power of Platforms: The Cooperative Movement, Social Care and Ride Hailing', WISERD Annual Conference, 3rd-4th July 2019
  • 'Towards Solutions: The Role of Trade Unions?' (Invited Speaker), Bevan Foundation Conference on Fair Work, December 2018
  • '#McStrike: Young People, Labour Disputes and Social Media', 68th Political Studies Association Conference, 26th-28th March 2018
  • 'Investigating the Patterns and Prevalence of UK Trade Unionism on Twitter', 8th Social Media & Society Conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, 28th-30th July 2017
  • 'Investigating the Patterns and Prevalence of UK Trade Unionism on Twitter', WISERD Annual Conference, Bangor University, 5th-6th July 2017
  • ‘Mapping Resistance in the Digital Public Sphere’, WISERD Annual Conference, Swansea University, 13th-14th July 2016
  • ‘Mapping Resistance in the Digital Public Sphere: Counter Surveillance on Social Media’, Social Media & Society, Goldsmiths, University of London, 11th-13th July 2016
  • ‘Communications Surveillance in the UK: Politics, Governance and Regulation, 7th Surveillance Studies Network Conference, Universitat de Barcelona, 21st-23rd April 2016
  • ‘Conceptualising Interaction Between Resistance and Surveillance: Changes in an Online World’, 5th Surveillance Studies Network Conference, Sheffield University, 2nd-4th April 2012

Training and Engagement events:

  • 'Trade Union Organising Through Social Media', ESRC Festival of Social Science (November 2018, Wales TUC)
  • 'Using Social Media in Social Research', WISERD and Social Data Science Lab, (September 2016, Cardiff University)

Other:

  • 'Strike Action on Social Media: The Case of #McStrike', ERU Seminar Series, Cardiff University, February 2019
  • 'Platform Cooperativism: A New Movement in the Digital Economy', WISERD Lunchtime Seminars, Cardiff University, December 2018
  • 'Forms of Connective Action? Social Media and the Labour Movement', WISERD Lunchtime Seminars, Cardiff University, July 2018
  • 'Social Media and Trade Unions: Patterns and Prevalence of Use', WISERD Lunchtime Seminars, Cardiff University, February 2017
  • ‘Surveillance, Resistance and (Digital) Civil Society’, WISERD Lunchtime Seminars, Cardiff University, October 2015
  • ‘Surveillance and Resistance: Social Control in the Digital Age’, Centre for Crime, Law and Justice, Cardiff University, April 2013
  • ‘Watch this Space: Surveillance, Resistance and the Internet’, SOCSI Doctoral Conference, Cardiff University, November 2012

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

I have undertaken teaching in the School of Social Sciences (SOCSI) and School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at both undergraduate and postgraduate level:

  • Digital Society: Theory, Method and Data
  • Principles of Research II
  • Foundations of Contemporary Criminology
  • Responses to Crime
  • Crime Control, Regulation and Policing
  • Contemporary Debates and Issues in Social Science
  • Dissertation

WISERD Civil Society

Trade union use of social media

Earlier on in WISERD Civil Society, I undertook research exploring the patterns and prevalence of social media use by trade unions in the UK. Data were collected relating to the use of Twitter by the largest trade unions (by membership): Unite, Unison, UCU, GMB and Usdaw. Twitonomy - an online tool for analysing Twitter usage - provided a detailed overview of how these trade unions were using Twitter; how frequently they tweeted, how they tended to use hashtags, the extent to which their behaviour generated interaction from others. NodeXL - a Microsft Excel plugin that provides functionality for collecting searchable social media data and carrying out social network analysis - allowed insight into the patterns of interaction and influence in the Twitter conversation around the Trade Union Bill that was progressing through Parliament in 2015. The findings from this project can be read in our 2017 paper for the Social Media and Society conference.

The 'McStrike'

In 2017 and 2018 my colleagues and I carried out a project examining the first ever strike by UK McDonald's workers, branded the 'McStrike'. Prior to the strike taking place on the 4th September 2017 we began collecting tweets in real time using the COSMOS Open Data Analytics software. Over a two-week period we collected approximately 94,000 tweets. Content analysis of these tweets was directed by an interest in the ways in which the strike action was framed and how support was mobilised. Social network analysis was conducted on a daily basis to explore the changes in network structure over time - before, during and after the strike. Some of the resulting network visualisations can be found in the image gallery on the right. Each of these illustrate patterns of retweeting, with larger clusters representing more retweets of a user.

Watch this space for our forthcoming papers based on this project. Our other write ups of progress from this project can be found under the 'Publications' tab: see our article for The Conversation and contributions to the WISERD blog.