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Tracking the Semantics of Politics: A Case for Online Data Research in Political Science

  • Navid Hassanpour (a1)

Retroactive digitization of the printed corpus reveals patterns of social evolution and political manipulation. Prior to the introduction of online search, examining the etymology of a political term helped social theorists extrapolate the historical trajectory of a political concept. Now we have tools for quantitative examination of such hypotheses. Using four case studies, I demonstrate the utility of word search dynamics in shedding light on the evolution of long-debated political phenomena. A triad of etymological explorations by Richard Koebner motivates the first three cases.

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Janet Afary , and Kevin B. Anderson . 2005. Foucault and the Iranian Revolution. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Richard Koebner . 1949. “The Concept of Economic Imperialism.” The Economic History Review 2 (1): 129.

Richard Koebner . 1951b. “Despot and Despotism: Vicissitudes of a Political Term.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 14 (3-4): 275302.

Hélène Landemore , and Jon Elster . 2012. Collective Wisdom: Principles and Mechanisms. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Jean-Baptiste Michel , Yuan Kui Shen , Aviva Presser-Aiden , Adrian Veres , Matthew K. Gray , The Google Books Team , Joseph P. Pickett , Dale Hoiberg , Dan Clancy , Peter Norvig , Jon Orwant , Steven Pinker , Martin A. Nowak , and Erez Lieberman-Aiden . 2011. “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books.” Science 331(January): 176–82.

Maurizio Viroli . 1992. From Politics to Reason of State, The Acquisition and Transformation of the Language of Politics 1250–1600. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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