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  • Beyond networks. Aligning qualitative and computational science studies

Beyond networks. Aligning qualitative and computational science studies

Alberto Cambrosio (McGill University), Jean-philippe Cointet (Médialab, Sciences Po)


Fri 19 Jun 2020 | 15:00 - 16:15
Online
Alberto Cambrosio (McGill University), Jean-philippe Cointet (Médialab, Sciences Po)

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This position paper examines the thorny issue of the relation (or lack thereof) between qualitative and quantitative approaches in Science and Technology Studies (STS). Although quantitative methods, broadly understood, played an important role in the beginnings of STS, these two approaches subsequently strongly diverged, leaving an increasing gap that only a few scholars have tried to bridge. After providing a short overview of the origin and development of quantitative analyses of textual corpora, we critically examine the state of the art in this domain. Focusing on the availability of advanced network structure analysis tools and Natural Language Processing workflows, we interrogate the fault lines between the increasing offer of computational tools in search of possible uses and the conceptual specifications of STS scholars wishing to explore the epistemic and ontological dimensions of techno-scientific activities. Finally, we point to possible ways to overcome the tension between ethnographic descriptions and quantitative methods while continuing to avoid the dichotomies (social/cognitive, organizing/experimenting) that STS has managed to discard.

Alberto Cambrosio is professor at McGill’s Department of Social Studies of Medicine since 1990, where he chaired the department from 2005 to 2016.

Jean Philippe Cointet is a researchers Sciences Po médialab, where he designs innovative computational sociology methods. He is specialized in text analysis, and is working on various kinds of corpora and sources questioning their socio-political dynamics.

This webinar marks the presentation of a Special Issue on"Bridges and Research Agendas Between “Qualitative” and “Quantitative” Science Studies” for the journal ‘Quantitative Science Studies’ (QSS). The goal of this special issue is to formulate challenges and research agendas for synergies between qualitative and quantitative approaches in the broad area of Science and Technology Studies (STS), science-policy analyses, innovation studies, the sociology of science, the science of science, and related domains.
 

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