The Citizen Research Centre & the Citizen Dialogue Centre
While we offer face to face qualitative and quantitative research in 48 African countries, we primarily work with NGOs and donors in four key areas, all generated through social media based research:
- Conversation based social media research,
- Media work,
- Advocacy (usually around policy, but also NGO advocacy) and
- Programmatic social media interventions based on real time dialogue.
Our programmatic work especially is conducted through our sister NPO – the Citizen Dialogue Centre (CDC). This NPO works solely in dialogue on social media. While the Citizen Research Centre (CRC) provides the necessary research to support dialogue on social media, the Citizen Dialogue Centre engages in that dialogue. The CDC trains and ‘arms’ digital activists in areas of conversation, and its longer term goal is to convert the more promising of these digital activists into ‘real life’ mediators. This with a view to providing a country wide network of ‘hot body’ mediators for use in times of social upheaval and conflict. The CDC is also a vehicle to seek funding for donors that will only engage with NPOs.
We stress that our politics are progressive, and our research and advocacy work is geared towards progressive goals.
We run analytic research on social media globally through our partnership with Crimson Hexagon , arguably the best social media analysis platform in the world. We run retrospective longitudinal analysis (last five years) in over 200 countries. We mine and report on the entire world’s social media data – and our database currently holds over 1 trillion pieces of social media data.
All our social media work is both current and ongoing and also retrospective to a five year timeline. This means all our studies are retrospective and longitudinal over a five year period.
Our founder has worked in research – corporate and social – for over 20 years, and continues to find social media the most interesting, complex, dynamic and deep source of data he has ever worked with.
All the data we look at represents the unsolicited views of ordinary citizens expressed on a public platform. So for example, in our recent study on xenophobia expressed on social media in South Africa (2011-2017), we didn’t ask as many people as possible what their views on xenophobia were. Rather, we looked at what tens of thousands of people had to say on social media about xenophobia.
In this sense, data from social media represents the truest expression of people’s views on any given subject – we are looking in on people expressing their opinions, unsolicited, on social media platforms – and it is a treasure trove of information.
It is simultaneously a very ‘big’ and a very ‘small’ process. We typically analyse millions of posts in our studies. Behind the big numbers though, are millions of uniquely expressed individual opinions. Each post is a uniquely created piece of information giving an individual citizen’s opinion on a given subject. Our task is to look at trends and changes in tone over time on a ‘macro’ scale, while also showing the nuance of the conversation at an individual level.
Social media is a giant conversation – people’s views are complex, and that is expressed in the intersection between opposing views within individual conversations.
We are able to isolate, categorise and study any conversation in any country in the world. We primarily work in Africa, and South Africa in particular, but we can just as easily work in any country in the world.