Observatory for Political Texts in European Democracies - A European Research Infrastructure

Funded by:

European Commission

Participating Institutions:

University of Vienna (PI), TUM, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), University of Exeter, University College Dublin, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Universiteit Van Amsterdam, University of Strathclyde, The University of Edinburgh, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Universitaet zu Koeln, Audencia Business School, Aarhus Universitet, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Høyskolen Kristiania

Project Description:

Understanding the challenges to liberal democracy across Europe and supporting its resilience and sustainability, now more than ever requires us to better systematize and to make transparent the activities and behaviours that take place at all stages of the political process. Social scientists are nowadays in a unique position to systematically observe political and societal developments empirically and more closely than ever before if they were to fully exploit the possibilities of the vast amounts of semi-structured textual data and the computational techniques that are available. Political texts produced by the media, individual-, collective and institutional political actors like politicians, political parties, governments, or by citizens and non-governmental organizations, offer a remarkable opportunity to observe and understand social and political processes better than hitherto possible. Obstacles to such exploitation lie in the fragmentation of the research field, the domain, language and context sensitivity of tools, the only evolving standardizations and routines of data sharing and validation, and in unclear legal and ethical frameworks. The new opportunities with regard to text analysis in digitalized democracies can be seized to the full extend by bringing together social scientists that control expertise with regard to the political processes and substantive issues An institutionalization of the field of political text analysis by means of a common European infrastructure will yield more impactful, sustainable, resource saving, innovative, democratic, non-discriminatory and substantially meaningful research landscape. The OPTED infrastructure, for which this project lays the foundation in terms of conceptual design work, pushes the boundaries of political text analysis by addressing both the development and the application of tools and techniques, the standardization of measurement quality and legal and ethical frameworks.