Sociology and the Digital Challenge

This chapter examines the implications of massively increased computational and data resources for social research methods, including the impact on practices and disciplines. The first part of the chapter places the digital in the context of three historical repertoires for apprehending social life: narrative, accounting, and the glance. The chapter then goes on to argue that the digital mimetically enhances all three of these conventional repertoires, at the same time that it emphasizes the exchange, or switch, as having distinctive ontological priority over narratives. Finally, the chapter reflects on the forthcoming prospects for digital sociology itself with some observations about how the Great British Class Survey is an indication of the complex stakes involved.