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Inclusion and the meta-conversation: Structural topic modelling the Scottish Independence Referendum

John Parkinson, Maastricht University

Tue 2 July 2019

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


I will presenting full results of my big data analysis of the Scottish indyref debate from 2012 to 2014, and show (a) that, in terms of topics being discussed, the real divide was not between Yes and No, but between elite and everyday conversations; (b) that economic issues were especially divided; and (c) that the single biggest topic was the meta-conversation, with citizens holding each other to deliberative norms in public.

About the speaker

John Parkinson is Adjunct Professor of Politics. He works on the relationships between formal policy making and a wide variety of practices in the public sphere, crossing boundaries between normative political theory, public policy, political sociology, and cultural studies. He is a leading proponent of the ‘deliberative systems’ approach, as well as the symbolic, discursive, performative aspects of policy and democratic politics. His books include Deliberating in the Real World (Oxford, 2006), Deliberative Systems (Cambridge, 2012), Democracy and Public Space (Oxford, 2012), and, with Centre Associate André Bächtiger, Mapping and Measuring Deliberation, forthcoming with Oxford in 2018. His current research project with Núria Franco-Guillén is the ARC-funded ‘Sparking a National Conversation’, which is developing new electronic social science tools to map and track claims over time and space in two cases: the Scottish independence debate of 2012-14, and the campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution, 2015-17.

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