Towards a naturalization of social sciences ? A case study on semantic social networks analysis

Abstract : Contemporary sociology and anthropology have been deeply influenced by works whose main challenge was to overhaul the distinction between nature and culture. These include the emblematic research lead by Bruno Latour or Philippe Descola, the first in the field of the sociology of science and technology (Latour, 1991), the second in what he calls himself an « anthropology of nature » (Descola, 2005). Both authors agree to move the border that social scientists previously placed between naturals beings and cultural beings to a dotted line which separates humans from non-humans, these latter constantly weaving complex links to the first ones and forming "hybrid networks". In their introduction to the book Naturalism versus constructivism (de Fornel & al., 2007), de Fornel and Lemieux seek to overcome the sterile opposition between "constructivism" and "naturalism" and call for a "non-reductionist naturalization of social sciences". The authors identify two possible routes for such a conversion of social sciences. The first one would be a praxeology concerned with institutions not as abstract social constructs but in action. The second one with the approach proposed by Descola, Latour and Callon and is called a "metaphysicalist comparatism", which would allow to "never lose sight of that te naturalist-constructivist metaphysics is not the only possible method to refer to the existing ". In this paper, we propose to consider, in light of these theoretical distinctions, the path followed by a stream of research emerging in social sciences : the semantic social networks analysis. This field of research has emerged from the convergence of methods from science of complex systems and sociology. In particular, french researchers from the former Centre de recherche en Epistémologie Appliquée (CREA) in the Polytechnique School have developped both a conceptual framework and methodological tools (an online platform allowing socio-semantics corpus analysis) in order to give an empirical basis to the concept of « epistemic communities ».
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Submitted on : Monday, February 6, 2017 - 2:07:37 PM
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Towards a naturalization of so...
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Emile Gayoso. Towards a naturalization of social sciences ? A case study on semantic social networks analysis. Interdisciplinary Futures : Open the Social Sciences 20 years later, INTREPID; TINT; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Jan 2017, Lisbon, Portugal. ⟨halshs-01450745⟩



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