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Social cartography and ‘knowing capitalism’ : critical reflections on social research and the geo-­spatial Web.

Smith, H. and Hardey, M. and Hardey, M. and Burrows, R. (2016) 'Social cartography and ‘knowing capitalism’ : critical reflections on social research and the geo-­spatial Web.', in The Sage handbook of online research methods. London: Sage, pp. 596-610.


This chapter explores how, what Thrift (2005) has termed knowing capitalism, is increasingly invested in developing new techniques, methodological frameworks, and cultural discourses that exploit the potential of social cartography to realize new forms of economic value and analytical power. Social cartography is defined here as an analytical concept that encompasses new cartographic information practices specifically derived from non--‐expert epistemologies and everyday users of new interactive mapping technologies, platforms, and software. Although there are many sites, case studies, and applications for this new social cartography, of specific interest to us here is exploration of the development of the geo--‐spatial Web 2.0 (the Geoweb) that combines interactive map--‐making with crowdsourced, volunteered, and open data practices. This chapter therefore explores the emergence of the Geoweb by examining its genealogical connections with knowing capitalism through a critical examination of its rhetorical, cultural, and politico--‐economic approaches to social cartography. The rationale of the chapter is to stimulate future research into how these new geo--‐spatial tools can offer social scientists new methodological approaches to doing research, while also scrutinizing the underlying political economies of knowing capitalism that consider how the diffusion of cartographic literacies and data is embedded in a neo--‐liberalization of empirical research.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:15 December 2015
Date of first online publication:December 2016
Date first made open access:01 December 2018

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