There have been many calls for better collaboration between fields like anthropology and sociology and computer science and data science (Neff et al., 2017) yet encounters between these fields remain in many ways fraught. This is despite the fact that there are many proposals for hybrid practices (Jensen2013, Marres 2017, Venturini and Latour 2010, Blok and Pedersen 2016) or even a shared lineage between them (Seaver 2015, Munk and Jensen 2015). Yet problems and misunderstandings persist due the assumed roles and inherited divisions of labour between social scientists and more technical researchers and everyday boundary work which performs divisions between “qualitative” and “quantitative” or “positivist” or “interpretivist”.
What happens if we interrogate these tensions, not as historical fictions or disciplinary givens but as a practical, situated achievement? This paper discusses a series of workshops organised at Linköping University in which anthropologists and other self-identified ‘qualitative’ researchers were encouraged to engage with various digital tools (network graphs, scrapers, text analysis, and Digital Methods etc.).These interactions offer us a glimpse of how so called ‘interepretivist’ researchers might approach data analysis in different ways, if given the chance, but they also raise the possibility that some of the barriers to collaboration might come from these researcher’s own taken-for-granted assumptions about research.
Watch the talk here