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Essays in political text: new actors, new data, new challenges

Paskhalis, Tom (2020) Essays in political text: new actors, new data, new challenges. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004182


The essays in this thesis explore diverse manifestations and different aspects of political text. The two main contributions on the methodological side are bringing forward novel data on political actors who were overlooked by the existing literature and application of new approaches in text analysis to address substantive questions about them. On the theoretical side this thesis contributes to the literatures on lobbying, government transparency, post-conflict studies and gender in politics. In the first paper on interest groups in the UK I argue that contrary to much of the theoretical and empirical literature mechanisms of attaining access to government in pluralist systems critically depend on the presence of limits on campaign spending. When such limits exist, political candidates invest few resources in fund-raising and, thus, most organizations make only very few if any political donations. I collect and analyse transparency data on government department meetings and show that economic importance is one of the mechanisms that can explain variation in the level of access attained by different groups. Furthermore, I show that Brexit had a diminishing effect on this relationship between economic importance and the level of access. I also study the reported purpose of meetings and, using dynamic topic models, show the temporary shifts in policy agenda during this period. The second paper argues that civil society in post-conflict settings is capable of high-quality deliberation and, while differing in their focus, both male and female can deliver arguments pertaining to the interests of broader societal groups. Using the transcripts of civil society public consultation meetings across former Yugoslavia I show that the lack of gender-sensitive transitional justice instruments could stem not from the lack of women’s 3 physical or verbal participation, but from the dynamic of speech enclaves and topical focus on different aspects of transitional justice process between genders. And, finally, the third paper maps the challenges that lie ahead with the proliferation of research that relies on multiple datasets. In a simulation study I show that, when the linking information is limited to text, the noise can potential occur at different levels and is often hard to anticipate in practice. Thus, the choice of record linkage requires balancing between these different scenarios. Taken together, the papers in this thesis advance the field of “text as data” and contribute to our understanding of multiple political phenomena.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Tom Paskhalis
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Supervisor: Benoit, Kenneth and Lauderdale, Benjamin E.

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