Course: Lemercier

[Course] Claire Lemercier: Quantitative methodology & Network analysis from on Vimeo.


Collaborative notes taken by paricipants of the DH Summer School Switzerland:
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[Course] Claire Lemercier, Quantitative methodology & Network analysis

[download her presentation slides here: ]
hello everybody \o/ Salut tout le monde !
she has an old phone = a proof she’s serious ūüėČ [ this text is totally unrelated and should be deleted]
Network analysis seen as a toolbox : she’s gonna discuss the “fashion of network analysis”
In fact, what is a network perspective ? what can it help you to see ?
Less is more : pour rendre visible qqch, + c’est complexe, – c’est utile.
En analyse de réseau, les outils ne sont pas complètement distincts des questions de recherche = Most important are research questions, not the tools \o/ Yes, what she said is that the choice of the tool will depend on the perspective/research question. A tool is not neutral.
the book has been translated into English, but she’s still looking for a publisher
she also cites the “SAGE handbook” : personally I think it’s not a good book, especially when beginning with network science]
¬†Terminology: “Formal Methods” rather than “Quantitative methods”
 Not necessarily big data, but deep/dense data, even if the dataset is small. The method is about dealing with complex, multidimensional data set.
¬†Counting, but mostly correlating and finding patterns. (Correlation with music) Not necessarly “macro”, but changing scales. <–> Data Mining
 Linked Рand not opposed to Рwith qualitative methods : no dichotomy, frontiers blurred
 Changing scaling is important, from middle level to individual levels, and macroscopic level (zoom in/zoom out)
 Zoo of methods, we need a map to navigate into this space
¬†Source: Charles Tilly, ¬ę Observations of Social Processes and Their Formal Representations ¬Ľ, Sociological Theory, 22-4, d√©cembre 2004, p. 595-602.
 She shows a typology of network in social science and which approach you ca use depending on the use of network as a descriptive or explicative variable.
Distant and close reading: Lemercier and Mata, 2011
Other ways to look for patterns and navigate scales
1) sequence analysis: technique to explore trajectories (in time, something happening to a long text, recurring patterns, etc). Eg context of narrative sociologie.
TraMineR package for sequence analysis
– can zoom in and out on trajectory patterns as a whole, but also can explore exceptions
– need to find the methods that suit your needs: network analysis — the peculiarities of it suits humanities
Network Analysis
– Social Network Analysis (SNA)
– Has become a research tradition
– Shared vocabulary (despite potential of extremely different theoretical paradigms)
– Network analysis is not a software, not a theory
not married to life to any theory/shool of thought (Bourdieu, Latour), just a way to look at things
– A tool is never neutral!
– The novelty with network analysis is the focus on relational data (“ties”, “relationships”) instead of only using attributes of actors.
Focus on relationships
What has been developped for a use in social science can be ??
– “Anything can be considered as a network” : not specially how people tweet/like/etc. each other = Ties and non ties between anything (people, images, texts)
– Some networks do not require too much analysis, some are just lists (if all relied to the same point, and no connection between them) = No added value of presenting a list of contacts… Doesn’t add analytical value
– Network not a group but a set of ties.
– Ties are interesting because there are not ties everywhere (if there are everywhere, it become less interesting)
– General idea is to find structures/patterns and to this at different scales: the great strength of this method
– Don’t stick to the macro view, do zoom in = navigate scales !
– NetDraw ( = this software is the anti-gif..! She advises us to begin with this software, even if you use Gephi after [funny : I would advise never to use it]
[one thing for sure : netdraw outputs are ugly] (but we can decide not to bother on the aesthetics of the stuff) [if you don’t plan to publish or present it ok]
– Sometimes (picture anybody ?), there is no structure but a lot of connectivity, because of lots of hierarchial (?) links
– “Structure is created by absent ties” (read Burt’s structural holes articles on this subject, for example
Motivations for using this:
– a fresh look to look at your data
– increased ability to recognize patterns (strucitre in a mess or borders… created by absent ties)
– Get a feeling of what happens to my data, first approach, when you are alone with your data.
– Teach/show things. You can also hide things and look what happens.
Floor is opened for questions on this first part:
1) Is it possible to have visualization in 3 dimensions with NetDraw?¬† –> ha ha nice.¬† I’ve been trying to figure out the name she was saying (being a total digital pleb)
A – requires other software, not with NetDraw
Interesting: to think at different ways to look at the interactions between data
– you have to have a matrix and figure out in each case what you’re trying to achieve: the idea of being systematic helps you to get out of a tautological rut
Thinking about ties
-Not “is there a network there ?” : there is always a network !
– Look at the ties : two hypothesis :
  • – what ties do ?
  • – where the ties come from ?
  • – How to think about defining ties?
  • – don’t put all the ties in a big bag, you’ll get only trivial tings
Networks from Humanistic Sources : some examples
– it’s not only for sociologists, historians can also use them
– lots out there (no dearth of sources)
Examples from history
1. Records of interaction : who is recommanding who (cooptation)
2. Account books => Pierre Gervais, 2012 from Gradis accounts (transatlantic trade)
3. Citation and co-citation : for history of science/knowledge => already done  in the 19th century (chemistry) , citation in letters, citation of places
Example from Litterature
Mental maps of contemporary poets (Dubois & François, 2013) : poets mapping their colleagues in anthologies and by labels
Example from political sciences (?)
Tilly, 1997, Structure of petitions to the Queen (1758-1801 & 1832-1834), with the words used “attack”,
Example from anthropology (?)
Folk songs of/about miners, studied by Marion Henry (Iramuteq was used )
Stolen from David Berry’s tweet:¬† Digital humanities? for old profs don’t understand tech, & young ones don’t understand hermeneutics? #dhch ‚Ķ
Ref/example: Sigrist and Widmer 2011 РNetwork of relations between botanists in 17th-19th century РNodes are placed on the graph according to their date of birth.  Full text: