Criminology Big Data and Communities and Crime
Daniel T. O'Brien
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0316


In recent years, a variety of novel digital data sources, colloquially referred to as “big data,” have taken the popular imagination by storm. These data sources include but are not limited to: digitized administrative records; activity on and contents of social media and internet platforms; and readings from sensors that track physical and environmental conditions. Some have argued that such data sets have the potential to transform our understanding of human behavior and society, constituting a meta-field known as computational social science. Such work has also required methodological advances that make the content of the data accessible and interpretable. How these promises and challenges manifest is specific to the questions and themes of a given discipline, and this bibliography summarizes how big data have been leveraged to further multiple lines of inquiry in the study of communities and crime.

The Context of Big Data

Big data is not a rigorous term, but a catch-all for the new types of information that have proliferated in the digital age. Operationally, this bibliography considers three main types of data included under the term: administrative records, social media posts and internet content, and readings from sensor systems. This first section summarizes perspectives on defining the term “big data” and how it is interpreted in a research context.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.