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Ce que le big data fait à l’analyse sociologique des textes — un panorama critique des recherches contemporaines

Jean-Philippe Cointet, Sylvain Parasie

Since the 2000s, new techniques of text analysis have emerged at the crossroads of computer science, artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Although they were developed independently of any sociological theory, these methods are now being used by researchers—sociologists and non-sociologists alike—to produce new knowledge of the social domain exploiting the massive volume of textual materials now available. By providing an overview of recent sociological investigations that are based on quantitative analyses of textual corpora, this article identifies three conditions under which these approaches can be a resource for sociological inquiry. The three conditions that emerge from our analysis concern: 1) knowledge of the context of production of textual inscriptions; 2) integration of external data into the study itself; 3) the adaptation of algorithms for sociological reasoning.