Participative epistemology in social data science: Combining ethnography with computational and statistical approaches

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Abstract

In this paper, I introduce the notion of participative epistemology and discuss how it can contribute to make social data science more accountable. I do so by offering the case of a project where ethnographic, computational and sequence analysis methods have been used in combination. By presenting here in greater detail research design and pilot results of a project using professional networking data to understand the careers of IT industry analysts, I suggest a view on the collaboration between data science and social science as coordinated labour. The application of participative epistemology to social data science is articulated in three points: (1) a more tactical view on the partnerships with commercial data where shared value system is not a pre-requisite for coordinated knowledge production; (2) an appreciation for complementarities in perspective between phenomenological sociology, expertise in computer science associated to digitalisation and the narrative positivism linked with the use of statistics and (3) a view on social data science as contributing empirical sociology with new sensitizing concepts, taking ethnography to reflectively address its own presuppositions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Early online date1 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • social data science
  • ethnography
  • interdisciplinarity
  • sociology of professions

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