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Operationalizing anthropological theory: four techniques to simplify networks of co-occurring ethnographic codes

Cottica, A; Davidov, V; Góralska, M; Kubik, J; Melançon, G; Mole, R; Pinaud, B; (2023) Operationalizing anthropological theory: four techniques to simplify networks of co-occurring ethnographic codes. Applied Network Science , 8 , Article 22. 10.1007/s41109-023-00547-6. Green open access

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Abstract

The use of data and algorithms in the social sciences allows for exciting progress, but also poses epistemological challenges. Operations that appear innocent and purely technical may profoundly influence final results. Researchers working with data can make their process less arbitrary and more accountable by making theoretically grounded methodological choices. We apply this approach to the problem of simplifying networks representing ethnographic corpora, in the interest of visual interpretation. Network nodes represent ethnographic codes, and their edges the co-occurrence of codes in a corpus. We introduce and discuss four techniques to simplify such networks and facilitate visual analysis. We show how the mathematical characteristics of each one are aligned with an identifiable approach in sociology or anthropology: structuralism and post-structuralism; identifying the central concepts in a discourse; and discovering hegemonic and counter-hegemonic clusters of meaning. We then provide an example of how the four techniques complement each other in ethnographic analysis.

Type: Article
Title: Operationalizing anthropological theory: four techniques to simplify networks of co-occurring ethnographic codes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s41109-023-00547-6
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41109-023-00547-6
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Sociology, Anthropology, Ethnography, Networks, Visual analytics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10171499
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