An interesting post by Fabio Rojas on the different ways in which the label ‘computational sociology’ has been used:
- Statistics – for the baby boomer generation of social scientists, “computing in socioal science” meant applied statistics. Remember, it requires a lot of knowledge and skill to store data and estimate models on computes with limited computing power.
- Agent based models – in the 1980s and 1990s, “computational” meant running simulations.
- Big data/CS techniques – currently, the term seems to refer to either (a) large data generated by online behavior and/or (b) using computer science techniques (e.g., topic models or sentiment analysis) to study social science data
My concern is that ‘computational sociology’ of the final sort risks leading to a computational social science that is not recognisably sociological: though this raises the obvious question of why this is a bad thing and what it means for something to be ‘recognisably sociological’.