Between narrative and number: The case of ARUP's 3D digital city model

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This article explores the ways in which contemporary digital visualization technologies offer grounds for a reappraisal of the relationship between qualitative and quantitative data. Using the example of a 3D digital model of the city of Manchester, the question of descriptive adequacy in the social sciences is addressed.The model is an interesting descriptive device oriented simultaneously to providing an accurate account of what is present in the world and a persuasive image of what that world could become. The analysis asks what kind of descriptive device the 3D model is, and looks at how it exercises its persuasive effects. While attending to how diverse knowledge forms are rendered compatible in the model, the concept of 'discontinuous data' is introduced to draw attention to incompatible knowledges that do not appear in the model.The article explores the potential of such models to reconfigure discontinuous data forms and to produce provocative counter-maps. Copyright © 2009 BSA Publications Ltd®.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-276
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • 3D modelling
  • Civil engineering
  • Complexity
  • Description
  • Digital visualizaton


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