This is cross-posted from OrgTheory.
Fabio’s earlier post on the academic brain drain prompted some good discussion in the comments about students who have computational skills who leave academia for positions in Silicon Valley. Some of the tension in the discussion surrounded whether those students would be better suited for those jobs and how we need those people within the social sciences to handle all the new “big data” that’s coming our way. As someone who’s worked in industry a few times, I don’t exactly think it’s my bag. I’m fairly confident that I’d like to stay within academia. To that end, I want to use this post to think through a few institutional ways that sociology could be changed to be made more amenable to computational social science. By “amenable” I mean trying to incorporate the types of methods and data into the mainstream of sociology research. The exact goals may be a little murky, but a few examples could suffice: publishing big data articles in ASR/AJS or having tenure-track job searches for these types of scholars that are initiated within sociology (and not as a cluster hire or as a search initiated in computer science). I encourage you to add your own below; I’m sure institutional scholars have many, many ideas about this. And I’m sure there’s a lot of fiscal realities that makes all of this sound slightly utopian or maybe even Polyannish. But, taking a cue from Erik Olin Wright, real utopias and so on.
This is also presuming that there’s a critical mass of sociologists that actually want to see the incorporation of computational methods. I know Fabio and Christopher Bail have voiced their support, and there’s that Lazer et al. piece in Science that’s been cited a few hundred times (it’s pretty telling that it was published in a journal like Science), but I don’t know how to gauge this kind of thing outside of my computationally homophilic networks.