Yannis Skarpelos

Big Visual Data in Social Sciences

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Visual social sciences have considered themselves as part of the qualitative tradition and have therefore dealt with ›small‹ visual data. Extensive visual data digitization programs and the explosion of social media gave rise to a minor quantitative tradition and offered the excitement of dealing with ›big‹ visual corpora. In this chapter I first try to answer the question ›when are visual data big?‹ based on examples of current research. Then I provide an account of technologies appropriate to visual research and state-of-the-art publications using such technologies. Data visualization is an important part of big data literature. It is more so in big visual data research, and I present examples in the use of such visualization techniques as composite images, image montage, histograms, and entourage plots. The last section is dedicated to the discussion about the use of such technologies and techniques in the framework of traditional visual social sciences’ methods like content analysis and semiotics.