Big Data in the Global Realm: An Assessment of International Relations' Ability to Study 21st Century Developments

  • Author / Creator
    Guha, Sagnik
  • This thesis examines Big Data as the latest and perhaps most potent iteration of a number of transformative technologies that have had and continue to have an impact of global politics and international power hierarchies. The thesis seeks to examine if the discipline of IR, with its current disciplinary boundaries and underlying rigidities, can adequately acknowledge and provide ontological space to developments such as Big Data. By examining the impact of Big Data upon global politics through qualitative analysis, as well as employing some major paradigms of International Relations to assess the efficacy of International Relations Theory in studying Big Data, this thesis attempts to simultaneously highlight the need to study Big Data as well as International Relation’s inability to provide sufficient academic scrutiny to it. The thesis attributes this inability to the aforementioned rigidities which manifest largely in its understanding of agency, non-state actors and what constitutes an ‘IR issue’. With this in mind, the thesis attempts an examination of Actor-network Theory as an alternate frame of reference which may provide insights into linking the study of Big Data to International Relations. This thesis contends that the discipline, in its present form, does not possess the necessary academic space to accommodate developments like Big Data as ‘IR issues’ or the necessary tools to study developments of a non-conventional nature. This is a reoccurring problem with the discipline. The thesis asserts that as global issues evolve and grow more complex each day, International Relations needs to tackle its rigidities and start a conversation surrounding Big Data in particular, if it is to stay on top of the new global developments of the Twenty-first century.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Library with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.