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Bringing together a motley crew of social scientists and data scientists, the aim of this special theme issue is to explore what an integration or even fusion between anthropology and data science might look like. Going beyond existing work on the complementarity between ‘thick’ qualitative and ‘big’ quantitative data, the ambition is to unsettle and push established disciplinary, methodological and epistemological boundaries by creatively and critically probing various computational methods for augmenting and automatizing the collection, processing and analysis of ethnographic data, and vice versa. Can ethnographic and other qualitative data and methods be integrated with natural language processing tools and other machine-learning techniques, and if so, to what effect? Does the rise of data science allow for the realization of Levi-Strauss’ old dream of a computational structuralism, and even if so, should it? Might one even go as far as saying that computers are now becoming agents of social scientific analysis or even thinking: are we about to witness the birth of distinctly anthropological forms of artificial intelligence? By exploring these questions, the hope is not only to introduce scholars and students to computational anthropological methods, but also to disrupt predominant norms and assumptions among computational social scientists and data science writ large.
Big Data & Society – SAGE
Published: Jan 1, 2023
Keywords: Computational ethnography; quali-quantitative methods; mixed methods; digital methods; social data science; machine anthropology
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