Paolo Natale

The third paradigm. The study of the web



If the digital revolution has produced an epochal change in society in general, the same thing has happened, albeit more slowly, also in socio-political research and in the tools that the researcher can use in his or her analysis. This paper aims to clarify, first of all, the type of data we find on the internet (digitized data, virtual data and digital data), distinguishing in particular between «provoked-data» and «user-generated data». The latter are the ones that present absolutely new characteristics in the history of research, being generated solely by the will of users to leave traces of themselves on social media. We cannot approach these data through one of the two traditional paradigms of quantitative and qualitative research (respectively, positivism and interpretativism), which both provided for a strong, albeit different, interaction between scholar and social actors being studied. In fact, digital data, Big Data, have a genesis completely free of intrusiveness, they are not ’solicited’ in any way by the researcher, and the approach to their study therefore responds to a sort of «third way», a different and original paradigm, whose distinctive features are presented and discussed here, together with the most relevant tools of web analysis.


  • Web Analysis
  • Methodological Paradigms
  • Digital Data
  • Big Data
  • Virtual Data


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