Social Systems Form Simulation to Observation

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 7:30 PM
Room: Booth 47
Oral Presentation
Lella MAZZOLI , Communication Studies & Humanities, UniversitÓ di Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
Fabio GIGLIETTO , Communication Studies & Humanities, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
The cognition-computing short circuit is still affecting both neuroscience and computer science today. Social systems theories, on the one hand, and agent-based simulations on the other have once more pinpointed the traditional sociological dualism between macro-and micro-sociology. However, the advent of ‘Big Data’ has paved the way to new techniques of investigation based on the study of new types of data, such as conversations taking place on popular web sites like Twitter and Facebook, traces left by our mobile devices or data generated by wearable sensors. Thanks to these techniques, we can go beyond simulation and observe the operation within the social “black box” in the same way that neuronal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) does as regards to the brain. This paper discusses the potential as well as the limitations of these new methods of sociological investigation and their spillover effects on the theoretical development of the discipline.