Analysis of political communication is an important aspect of political research. Thematic content analysis has yielded considerable success both with manual and automatic coding, but Semantic Network Analysis has proven more difficult, both for humans and for the computer. This article presents a system for an automated Semantic Network Analysis of Dutch texts. The system automatically extracts relations between political actors based on the output of syntactic analysis of Dutch newspaper articles. Specifically, the system uses pattern matching to find source constructions and determine the semantic agent and patient of relations, and name matching and anaphora resolution to identify political actors. The performance of the system is judged by comparing the extracted relations to manual codings of the same material. Results on the level of measurement indicate acceptable performance. We also estimate performance at the levels of analysis by using a case study of media authority, resulting in good correlations between the theoretical variables derived from the automatic and manual analysis. Finally, we test a number of substantive hypotheses with regression models using the automatic and manual output, resulting in highly similar models in each case. This suggests that our method has sufficient performance to be used to answer relevant political questions in a valid way.
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