Political Footprints: Political Discourse Analysis using Pre-Trained Word Vectors


How political opinions are spread on social media has been the subject of many academic researches recently, and rightly so. Social platforms give researchers a unique opportunity to understand how public discourses are perceived, owned and instrumentalized by the general public. This paper is instead focussing on the political discourses themselves, and how a specific machine learning technique - vector space models (VSMs) -, can be used to make systematic and more objective discourse analysis. Political footprints are vector-based representation of a political discourse in which each vector represents a word, they are produced thanks to the training of the English lexicon on large corpora of text. This paper describes a simple implementation of political footprints, some heuristics on how to use them, and their application to four cases: the U.N. Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement, the 2008 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections. The reader will be given some reasons to believe that political footprints produce meaningful results, suggestions on how to improve them and validate the results.


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