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  • Author or Editor: Vincent A. Traag x
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This paper introduces the Elite Network Shifts (ENS) project to the Asian Studies community where computational techniques are used with digitised newspaper articles to describe changes in relations among Indonesian political elites. Reflecting on how “political elites” and “political relations” are understood by the elites, as well as across the disciplinary boundaries of the social and computational sciences, it suggests ways to operationalise these concepts for digital research. It then presents the results of a field trip where six Indonesian political elites were asked to evaluate the accuracy of their own computational networks generated by the project. The main findings of the paper are: (1) The computational identification of political elites is relatively successful, while much work remains on categorising their relations, (2) social scientists should focus on capturing single dimensions of complex social phenomena when using computational techniques, and (3) computational techniques are not able to capture multiple understandings of social concepts.

In: Asian Journal of Social Science

We present a new computational methodology to identify national political elites, and demonstrate it for Indonesia. On the basis that elites have an “organised capacity to make real and continuing political trouble”, we identify them as those individuals who occur most frequently in a large corpus of politically-oriented newspaper articles. Doing this requires mainly well-established named entity recognition techniques and appears to work well. More ambitiously, we also experiment with a new technique to map the relational networks among them. To establish these networks, we assume that individuals co-occurring in one sentence are related. The co-occurrence technique has rarely been applied to identify elite networks. The resulting network has a core-periphery structure. Although this in line with our sociological expectations of an elite network, we find that this structure does not differ significantly from that of a randomly generated co-occurrence network. We explain that this unexpected result arises as an artefact of the data. Finally, we assess the future potential of our elite network mapping technique. We conclude it remains promising, but only if we are able to add more sociological meaning to relations between elites.

In: Asian Journal of Social Science