Can Data Science Do Without the Field Survey? Developing Innovative Statistical and Cartographic Methodologies Involving Small and Big Data Analyses in Social Sciences

Since the birth of Social Sciences, survey methodologies have encountered increasing developments in collecting data. From the “Essay on the Theory of Science” by Max Weber, to the Rules of the Sociological Method by Emile Durkheim, sociological and anthropological rules and know-hows successfully developed strong methodological principles that have proved their worth over time. Today, it seems to be quite difficult to revert these principles and change the methodological rules implemented by Social Sciences. Yet, the new digital technologies and the cultural practices generated by them are nowadays creating a serious imbalance for the survey methodologies developed by Social Sciences. While Social Sciences advocate "field" surveys conducted as close as possible to individuals, how can researchers collect data from digital cultural practices that are produced, in any case, from the private sphere? And how can socio-economic characteristics of individuals be defined when most of our practices are becoming digitalised? In other words, Social Sciences are today running the real risk of losing contact with the most contemporary cultural practices if they refuse to change methodological paradigm. In recent years, new technologies have encountered real progress in data extraction and analysis. New software such as EthnosData and Net-Survey now allow researchers to practice data mining on the Internet and collect quite considerable and unprecedented amounts of data for research in Social Sciences. These new tools represent a real added value for the analysis of digital practices or for carrying out surveys via the Internet. By combining methodologies implemented by Social Sciences and new technologies, this paper aims to present innovative statistical and cartographic methodologies involving Small and Big Data analyses applied to research in Social Sciences.

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Posted by IAFOR