With the ‘cultural turn’, the concept of culture has assumed enormous importance in our understanding of the interrelations between social, political, and economic structures, patterns of everyday interaction, and systems of meaning-making. In The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis, the leading figures in their fields explore the implications of this paradigm shift. Addressed to academics and advanced students in all fields of the social sciences and humanities, this Handbook is at once a synthesis of advances in the field, with a comprehensive coverage of the scholarly literature, and a collection of original and provocative essays by some of the brightest intellectuals of our time.
Chapter 31: Thinking by Numbers: Cultural Analysis and the Use of Data
Thinking by Numbers: Cultural Analysis and the Use of Data
There will be readers for whom the very title of this chapter will be off-putting: many will regard the prospect of reading about numbers and methods as, at best, tiresome, and at worst, an irrelevance. They will be tempted to move on to something more familiar. But my concerns in this chapter are less with the technicalities of quantification than with the broader questions of the purpose and method of cultural and media studies. In many areas of cultural enquiry, quantitative data have often been the elephant in the room – superficially ignored, but undeniably present.
And yet the conceptual tools informing most forms of cultural analysis ...