Accepted paper:

Quali-quantitative friendships: Exploring human relations somewhere between aggregate and individual


Tobias Bornakke Jørgensen (Copenhagen University)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

For more than two decades effort has been put into the theoretical development of a Quali-quantitative method (Latour et al., 1991; Venturini & Latour, 2010; Latour et al., 2012). As part of a current STS research agenda attempting to rethink the ontologies underlying methods of social science (e.g. Savage, Ruppert & Law, 2013), the Quali-quantitative approach has been suggested as a general way of overcoming the methodological divide between individual and aggregate through the application of digital traces.

Despite this great determination, the world has yet to see a comprehensive operationalization as well as empirical engagement of the method. The paper responds to this absence through an explorative case-work on the development of friendships based on a unique digital (big) dataset containing the continual recordings of 700+ freshman students social interaction and whereabouts (sms, phone, social media, physical proximity, GPS etc.).

The aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly, the article aims at examining the methodological and analytical potential of Quali-quantitative method addressing how the method illuminates the social, in which ways it differs from traditional sociological approaches, and what technical limitations that stand in the way of fulfilling the dream of 'true' Quali-quantitative explorations. Secondly, the paper aims at empirically revealing how tracing multiple channels of social interaction mediates friendships into a socio-technical arrangements and how the availability of digital traces thus forces us to rethink our understanding of human relations.

panel G2
Digital mediation and re-mediation: What prospects for a future STS?