SDHSS Semantic Data for Humanities and Social Sciences CIDOC CRM Extension Root
SDHSS Semantic Data for Humanities and Social Sciences CIDOC CRM Extension
Published by Francesco Beretta (CNRS/Université de Lyon), 7 December 2020. Last revised on 8 August 2023. (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The extension of CIDOC CRM for semantic data for humanities and social sciences (SDHSS) stems from the need to conceptualise the reality in the world, and more specifically factual information, from the point of view of historical research. The ontological commitment is therefore related to the domain of discourse of history but insofar as history, as a discipline that studies the life of humans and societies in the past, is interested in all the different aspects of social, economic, political, religious, literary and cultural life, the scope of this extension could be defined as the whole of social and human life, apprehended from the descriptive point of view, and global approach to reality, that characterises historical research and, more generally, humanities and social sciences.
This definition of the scope or domain modelled is based on the conviction that in a constructivist approach of scientific knowledge, a conceptualisation and data model can only be developed from the point of view of a specific discipline because scientific objects do not exist in the absolute but depend on the method and research agenda. They depend on the perspective or epistemic context researchers adopt in considering states of affairs: scientific objects, and semantic models modelling them, are not declared to be the only appropriate and exclusive representation of things in the pre-Kantian sense but defined as intentional objects constructed from the point of view of a discipline and methodological approach in relation to things in the world. Scientific objects are not the things in the world themselves, even if they must necessarily refer to them by way of observation or experimentation, if a scientific and therefore realistic approach is to be maintained. This corresponds to the notion of inter-objectivity in social sciences relying on the distinction between things in themselves and things as perceived, experienced and discussed by human subjects, in their shared intentionality and in relation to their social practices and context.
The SDHSS namespace is split into a top-level one (the present one) and different namespaces (each belonging to a subproject of the main one) in order to provide a more flexible development of the model, and to allow the management of sub-domains of historical research, and eventually of other disciplines, by experts belonging to different research communities. In these namespaces, new classes and properties allow to clarify the modelling of the reality studied from the point of view of historical research intended in the general perspective outlined above.
Inspiring previous work and literature, in addition to the modelling experience developed in the symogih.org project during more than 10 years and the robust object-oriented approach developed by the CIDOC CRM SIG, is the one accomplished in the Wonderweb European project which produced the DOLCE and DnS foundational ontologies. The general epistemological approach is inspired by the work of Evandro Agazzi about realist objectivity, distinguishing between things and scientific objects, and more or less recent developments in social sciences (sociology and social psychology) especially with regard to the fundamental notion of social representations and collective intentionality. These are the epistemological foundations of the top-level ontology proposed for factual information modelling as an integration of CIDOC CRM trying to comply as much as possible with its modelling principles and to harmonise with the existing classes and properties.
Finally, this epistemological approach proposes a fundamental distinction —essential in historical and social sciences research— between the collective intentionality of the society under study and the one of the research community, distinction expressed by the term of “historical (epistemic) distance”. Modelled classes and properties can be considered as expressions of the conceptualization of the researchers, in relation to their general research agenda and line of inquiry, and the general conceptualization of their domain of discourse, whereas their instances, and the intentional content of them, should reproduce the social representations of the studied society. E.g. the intentional meaning of a relationship of type ‘marriage’ should be defined according to the social representations of the society of the past. This representation, a ‘description’ in the sense of the DnS ontology, allowed the considered society to see in a specific set of states of affairs a ‘social situation’ satisfying the given description, i.e. a marriage. The understanding of marriage in the present perspective of the researcher, in relation to his or hers own social life, should not be considered in the definition of the type 'marriage', as an instance of the class crm:E55 Type. In historical research, one should as far as possible avoid projecting one's own representations on the events of the past in order to avoid anachronisms and ideological reconstructions of historical factuality. This modelling approach, splitting the definition of the classes (the present) and the one of their instances (the past), allows to give full consideration to historical distance as a means of carefully distinguishing between the different levels of human representations, the past and the present ones.
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Atelier données FAIR, 10 novembre 2020
Base URI: https://ontome.net/ns/sdhss/
Project of belonging: SDHSS Semantic Data for Humanities and Social Sciences
Root namespace prefix: sdh
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