Turning Digitised Newspapers into Networks of Political Elites

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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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.

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    Figure 1

    A network visualisation of clusters of Indonesian political elites

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    Figure 2

    An example of a computational network shown to interviewees

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    Figure 3

    Types of relations in the computational networks confirmed by elites

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    Figure 4

    Types of relations in the computational networks NOT confirmed by elites

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