Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts.
Big Data & Society, 1 (1).
This article examines how the availability of Big Data, coupled with new data analytics, challenges established epistemol-
ogies across the sciences, social sciences and humanities, and assesses the extent to which they are engendering para-
digm shifts across multiple disciplines. In particular, it critically explores new forms of empiricism that declare ‘the end of
theory’, the creation of data-driven rather than knowledge-driven science, and the development of digital humanities and
computational social sciences that propose radically different ways to make sense of culture, history, economy and
society. It is argued that: (1) Big Data and new data analytics are disruptive innovations which are reconfiguring in many
instances how research is conducted; and (2) there is an urgent need for wider critical reflection within the academy on
the epistemological implications of the unfolding data revolution, a task that has barely begun to be tackled despite the
rapid changes in research practices presently taking place. After critically reviewing emerging epistemological positions, it
is contended that a potentially fruitful approach would be the development of a situated, reflexive and contextually
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