"Big data" in the form of unstructured text poses challenges and opportunities to social scientists committed to advancing research frontiers. Because machine-based and humancentric approaches to content analysis have different strengths for extracting information from unstructured text, we argue for a collaborative, hybrid approach that combines their comparative advantages. The notion of a progressive supervised-learning approach that combines data science techniques and human coders is developed and illustrated using the Social, Political and Economic Event Database (SPEED) project's Societal Stability Protocol (SSP). SPEED's rich event data on civil strife reveals that conventional machine-based approaches for generating event data miss a great deal of within-category variance, while conventional human-based efforts to categorize periods of civil war or political instability routinely mis-specify periods of calm and unrest. To demonstrate the potential of hybrid data collection methods, SPEED data on event intensities and origins are used to trace the changing role of political, socio-economic and socio-cultural factors in generating global civil strife in the post-World War II era.
This article examines the destabilizing impact of rapid-onset, climate-related disasters. It uses a sample of storms and floods in conjunction with two intensity measures of civil unrest to examine two perspectives on human reactions to disasters (conflictual, cooperative). It also uses insights from the contentious politics literature to understand how emotions posited by the conflictual perspective are transformed into destabilizing acts. While the data show that mean levels of unrest are higher in the wake of disasters, the means poorly reflect the data: the vast majority of episodes do not show higher levels of unrest. Moreover, even when higher levels of unrest emerge, they are not a simple reflection of disaster's human impact; this underscores the importance of the transformational process. Thus, a preliminary model of political violence is investigated; it employs impact, process and institutional variables and it explains three-quarters of the variance in the intensity of violence.
- Link to Journal of Conflict Resolution article
- Data and syntax files used in analysis (zip file) (Size: 1.47 MB)
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This article outlines an effort to gauge cross-national and intertemporal differences in law-based orders for 165 nations from 1850 to 2010. Despite the increasing importance attributed to “the rule of law,” there have been few efforts to develop objective measures of it. The conceptual foundations for this effort rest on a review of centuries of scholarship concerning the societal utility of law. Data are drawn from a variety of sources to create two composite measures. The derivation of these measures is reported and the measures are examined to determine whether they present reinforcing profiles of a country's legal order.
- Appendix 1 (Length: 17 pages / Size: 102K)
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- Appendix 2 (Length: 3 pages / Size: 23K)
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