Measuring Ministerial Career Dynamics

I have a new article out in West European Politics with my colleagues Holger Döring and Conor Little which looks at the career dynamics of ministers in seven European countries over the last 50 or so years. We were interested in factors relating to their stability in the job to a large extent, but also more general things such as how power gradually turns over in most democracies. We find an important diversion in the career trajectories of senior and junior ministers in most countries, with a small core of senior ministers staying in power for long periods of time whilst a larger and more fluid mass of junior ministers move in and out of power more frequently.

WEP

Ministerial careers isn’t a core area of substantive research for me, but there was a fairly extensive computational element to the project which did get me interested. It makes use of the wonderful Parlgov political data structure, which was really useful for both organising collaborative data collection and storing the data.

This project was also my first foray into using SQL seriously for academic research. An SQL database is a wonderfully neat format for organising research projects if you’ve got lots of different types of data which only need to be mashed together for analysis. It does save time on the recombining element as well. But it does create a bit of overhead and I’m still not sure it is in the core computational social science toolkit (unless you are in Hadoop territory with the size of your dataset, in which case the SQL equivalent Hive really comes into it’s own).

Measuring Online News Consumption

Ofcom has just released a report on measuring online news consumption and supply, which I contributed to. It tackles the question of how to meaningfully measure the size of a news outlet’s audience in the digital age. This is a key issue for a regulator, in for example deciding whether to allow a takeover, and it’s also one that’s far from clear now that a lot of news consumption takes place online.

Ofcom - Measuring Online News Consumption and Supply

The report examines all sorts of different metrics which regulators could use, from amount of visitors to the website and time on page to amount of social sharing. It also highlights that while the best metric isn’t clear the detail offered is considerably better than what could be achieved in the offline age, and hence the digital environment also presents the opportunity to really understand audience behaviour as never before.

Read the report here.

Digital Politics in Western Democracies

I recently had the chance to review Cristian Vaccari’s excellent new book Digital Politics in Western Democracies. Vaccari has assembled a great cross country comparative dataset on various indicators relating to politics and the internet, and provides a refreshing contrast to work which has been largely US centric so far. Have a look at the review here.

Can electoral popularity be predicted using socially generated big data?

New article published with Taha Yasseri in IT – Information Technology. A short piece making the case for theoretically informed social media predictions, which is part of a larger project we are running with support from the Fell Fund over the next year or so. Read it here: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/itit.2014.56.issue-5/itit-2014-1046/itit-2014-1046.xml?format=INT

Policy and Internet

I’ve recently been appointed as an editor of the OII’s journal Policy and Internet, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. There are major plans underway to develop and expand the journal so it’s an exciting project to be joining,

pandi

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