Thematically, SocMap focuses on the way location and local communities – be it in urban or rural social surroundings – matters and how locations are affected by and influence inequality related to health, education, income, etc. Demography, econometric analysis, mapping methods and machine learning are central tools and perspectives. Lately, migration and climate change have increasingly come into focus as local engagement and communities are central to social cohesion and climate adaptions.
Agenda and research topics
The group has a common aim to analyse territorial or spatial issues. More specifically, we analyse issues concerning (local) communities, demographic change and socioeconomic inequality. SocMap also focuses on how location or institutions can mediate, i.e., compensate or worsen various types of socially contingent problems. Add to this studies of mobility with a focus on how social strategies and practices can work as modifiers of the time burden of collective mobility, studies of place and how different places are produced by the social practices taking place there, as well as of automated redistricting and the utilisation of big data to investigate social phenomena, in particular how different types of data (e.g., register data, satellite imagery, non-structured data) can refine our measures and understandings of social inequality, educational inequality and segregation in a geographical framework.
Finally, studies of family formations over the life course and especially how they relate to themes such as local community work, capacity development, community resilience, belonging and the strategic mobilisation of territorial capacity, urban policy strategies, as well as on strategies for social integration in and through local communities and places can be added to the list of activities in SocMap.
Methods and theory development
Researchers from SocMap use a variety of approaches ranging from qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods to rearticulate prevailing theories. The researchers’ methodological competences and their diverse research backgrounds are a core strength. SocMap has members with expertise in qualitative methods, e.g., fieldwork, interviewing, and ethnographic methods, as well as advanced quantitative econometric analysis, machine learning methods and GIS techniques. The development of a micro-area-mapping model (E-BARD) that works with flexible boundaries and units that are defined by variables (instead of pre-given administrative units) developed by Lund (2019) constitute one of the cornerstones of the current methodological perspective.
As multiple methodological competences are available in the research group, we have unique opportunities to conduct mixed methods research. The mixed method approach is a crucial strength of SocMap, and thus comprises the highly differentiated methods applied in the different projects conducted and initiated by the group.
Furthermore, the research group is actively exploring the use of mapping, machine learning and image recognition in combination with Nordic register data in an effort to develop methodologies that transcend the quantitative/ qualitative divide and to include data material from many different sources and of many different types.
Over the years, SocMap has received competitive grants from various sources, including EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and innovation, “EUROPE IN A CHANGING WORLD/REV-INEQUAL-07-2016, ERC (European Research Council) Advanced Grant, The Independent Research Fund Denmark, The Obel Family Foundation, TrygFonden, The SparNord Foundation, The Danish Working Environment Research Fund, The Real Dania Foundation, Kommunernes Landsforening & Municipality of Morsoe, The Municipality of Aarhus, Danish Health Authority, and NordForsk. Most grants were given to open researcher-initiated research; others were linked to specifically assigned tasks for which tenders were invited.