An article to be published by the British Journal of Sociology on the monadology of Tarde and its digital instantiation
“The Whole is Always Smaller Than Its Parts” —How Digital Navigation May Modify Social Theory (with Pablo Jensen, Tommaso Venturini, Sébastian Grauwin and Dominique Boullier).
In this paper we argue that one has the social theory of its datascapes. When it is impossible, or cumbersome, or simply slow to assemble and to navigate through lengthy profiles for each item, it makes sense to treat data (no matter what sort of human or non-human entity it comes from) by defining two levels: one for the element, the other for the aggregates. But when it is feasible to provide, for each item, lengthy profiles, then, it is more rewarding to begin navigating datasets without making the distinction between the level of individual component and that of aggregated structure. In this case, search results take the shape of monads (or actor-networks). We claim that it is just this sort of navigational practice that is now made available by digitally available rich databases and that such a practice could modify social theory in keeping with the statistical dreams of Gabriel Tarde as well as the early attempts of ANT.