Digital methods in migration studies

Dana Diminescu
Telecom ParisTech I3 CNRS

Just over fourteen years ago, in 2003, we founded a research programme dedicated to the study of migrants and migrations in relation to the development of information communication technology.

Migrants or non-migrants, today we all circulate in a digital environment. As we travel, pay, communicate, surf the web, network on different platforms, our personal digital network grows bigger and bigger and speaks about us through the traces that our digital practices leave at every instant, at each step we take in the ITC infrastructures.
These masses of data generated by digital tools often crop up in research and are an increasing challenge to the traditional ‘working’ of the humanities and social sciences, in their methods but also in their categories, paradigms and ethical approaches. How can we make use of this new ‘raw material’ in our research on migrations? What is the best way to organise the articulation of subjects and methodology in this context? How can the new methods imported from the exact sciences (statistical processing, analysis of graphs) be articulated with the qualitative research with which they sometimes conflict? Finally, and more generally speaking, what epistemological concepts can we propose to accompany the development of digitalisation and can we speak of a digital theory of migration?

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