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Social media as data in migration research

October 27, 2023
9:00 AM EDT - 1:00 PM EDT
In person at CERC Migration office
About the workshop:

This workshop will introduce researchers and graduate students in the field of migration to the increasing use of social media as a means to gather information about migration behaviours and mobility patterns. Participants explore cases of (Twitter) and online forums to conduct migration research, identify a set of best practices, and introduce tools to assist researchers in mining social media data.

Participants will be introduced to applications of social media data to migration topics such as the formation of an online identity, identifying ethnic and language networks, gauging public opinions on topics, and identifying spatial integration of ethnic groups. (No prior programming experience is required.)

In this workshop participants will learn:

  • What are the types of research questions that can be addressed using social media as data
  • How social media can further support migration research
  • What the best practices are in mining data from social media sources
  • What qualitative and quantitative tools are available for data extraction and analysis

How this workshop is delivered:

The workshop is delivered through case analysis and demonstrations. Netlytics is explored in this workshop.

9 - 9:30 AM - Welcome and refreshments 

9:30 - 9:45 AM  Introduction  

Why is social media data important for migration research?

9:45 - 11 AM  Use Cases 

An overview will be provided of the three papers noted below, answering the following questions: how was social media data used to analyze the digital- and real-world? What tools were used? What were advantages and drawbacks from this methodology?

  1. Ferra, Ioanna & Nguyen, Dennis (2017). #Migrantcrisis: “tagging” the European migration crisis on Twitter. Journal of Communication Management, volume 21 (4), pp. 411-426.
  2. Ekman, Mattias (2019). Anti-immigration and racist discourse in social media. European Journal of Communication, volume 34 (6), pp. 606-618.
  3. Shah, B.V. & Ogden, J. (2021). Immigration, Race, and Nation in the UK: The Politics of Belonging on Twitter, Sociological Research Online, 0 (0). (external link) 

11 - 11:10 AM BREAK

11:10 AM - 12:30 PM  Communalytic  

What are some of the tools that migration researchers can leverage to analyze and visualize public online conversations on social media?

Why is social network analysis important for migration research?

Communalytic tutorials: (external link) 


  1. Leurs, K., & Smets, K. (2018). Five Questions for Digital Migration Studies: Learning from Digital Connectivity and Forced Migration In(to) Europe. Social Media + Society. (external link) 
  2. Maria Gintova (2019). Understanding government social media users: an analysis of interactions on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Twitter and Facebook, Government Information Quarterly.

12:30 - 1 PM LUNCH (provided)

About the workshop leaders:

Stein Monteiro is Senior Research Associate, CERC Migration. His research focuses on issues of assimilation and integration among new immigrant groups and the causal relationships between the socio-structural characteristics of the host or sending country and the potential migrant's decision. Stein holds a PhD in Economics from York University. As a part of his dissertation, Stein explored themes related to family dynamics and its influence on migration decisions and on the role of co-ethnic networks in affecting assimilation rates among new immigrant groups in Canada. Stein has advanced data science skills that he employs to analyze large administrative and survey data sets. Working with linked administrative and survey data at Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centre, he aims to identify how the properties of typical social networks play a role in the process of integration among new immigrant groups.


Our workshops are often oversubscribed and we maintain a waiting list. We ask that you please cancel your registration if you are no longer able to attend. We appreciate your understanding.