So how can someone hack sociology and what does that even mean? Chances are you know exactly why you came here. Yet, to answer this question we shall needlessly elaborate on it. Because after all this is a site managed by sociologists.
First of all, the answer depends on your notion of sociology. If there is one thing our discipline can agree on, it is to disagree. We divide by creed as easily as societies by labor. Qualitative versus quantitative methods. Grand theories versus empirical results. And so on and so forth. Nonetheless, this site aims to be a resource for as many sociologists and social scientists as is possible. Therefore we take the easy way out and leave it up to you to decide what the right kind of sociology is and focus on the practical problems of sociological research.
Most of the day-to-day technological problems of social scientists are not part of the textbooks. Getting your data, cleaning it, storing it, organizing your research, finding desiderata etc. Those activities are very time-consuming for researchers, but seem to have no value for publication. The clean stories that are published make no mention of the messy work from which they originate. Since most social scientist work alone or in small groups the solutions they might find do not travel far. Because of this we are often forced to reinvent the wheel over and over again.
Finding a full-fledged solution for those little problems is often too time consuming so we grind our teeth and carry on as we did before. Downloading hundreds of official documents for discourse analysis by pointing and clicking. Using an extensive work force of student workers for coding or acquiring data by hand. Transferring data from one analytical framework to another just because it makes “prettier pictures”. Losing time, money and energy to tasks which are only the prerequisites to actual research.
As mentioned before, a one-size-fits-all approach is doomed to fail in the social sciences. The only way seems to be opening up the machine, voiding the warranty and finding quick and dirty fixes for our most common problems. This is what we mean by hacking. The Art of finding creative solutions and workarounds. To not be content with what we got out of the box but instead making our own social science practice. And not only because it frees your hands to do something else. It is also fun to make up your own rules and solutions as you go along.
So this is what it is all about. Finding technological solutions to the everyday problems of social science and sharing them. They might not fit your problem perfectly, but at least there is a place to start.
If you have a nifty trick or some deep insight about computational sociology you want to share with our readers or just want to get in touch, you can contact us through here: