The layers of political public sphere in Hungary (2001–2020)

A sociological analysis of the official, media-based and lay online public sphere using automated text analytics and critical discourse analysis

A research project supported by NKFIH (National Research, Development and Innovation Office) (K-134428)

Period of support: December 2020-December 2023

Principal Investigator: Renáta Németh

Participants: Ildikó Barna, Péter Csigó, Domonkos Sik (senior researchers), Jakab Buda, Eszter Katona, Árpád Knap, Márton Rakovics, Zsófia Rakovics, Emese Tóth (junior researchers)

Summary

The public sphere is the cornerstone of modern representative democracies: it is responsible not only for providing the voters with the necessary information for a deliberate vote but also to keep the administrative system in check not solely from a legal but also from a moral standpoint. In this sense, the prospect of averting those potential distortions and crises which may emerge in democratic systems depend on the quality of the public sphere (Habermas 1975, 1998). The emergence of the online public sphere overlaps with several waves of significant political transformations and reconfigurations of the political field in Hungary. Therefore, Hungary is a particularly rich context for this research.

The overarching aim of this research is to map the Hungarian online political public sphere since the early 2000s. The transformations of the political and public sphere outline the substantive framework of our research. We plan to analyze the different layers of political discourse including the official channels of communication (e.g., parliamentary speech); the various types of political press (e.g., online press, news portals, tabloid), and also the user-generated contents (online comments, forums, blogs and public Facebook posts). We not only intend to analyze the inner discursive content and dynamics of these layers but also the interactions between them. Moreover, we plan to triangulate these discursive processes with existing polling data to gain a deeper understanding of the interactions between political discourse and public opinion.

We plan to consider the content of the discourses (topics discussed) as well as the language usage/framing. We will identify discursive locations where language polarization appears to describe its linguistic features and explain its mechanisms. We will scrutinize the connection between the manifest and latent opinion climate, the former represented by the political discourse and the latter by polling data. We will not only focus on their similarities but also on their discrepancies.

Digital data produced in online public spheres are primarily textual. Such data require analytical tools, which became accessible only recently with the emergence of the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) capable of processing large-scale textual data in a systematic, automated way. These innovative tools provide suitable depth in results for sociology (Németh and Koltai, 2020). Sociology will exploit the potential of these changes if it can renew its research culture while preserving its critical reflections. Hence it was our mission to plan a research that shows how NLP can be integrated in an organic way into the toolbox of traditional sociological methods. To reach this aim, we plan to combine automated text analytics with not only qualitative discursive analysis but also traditional quantitative statistical methods.

References

Habermas, Jürgen. 1975. Legitimation Crisis. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1998. Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Németh, Renáta, and Júlia Anna Koltai. 2020. “Sociological knowledge discovery through text analytics”. In Pathways between Social Science and Computational Social Science – Theories, Methods and Interpretations, edited by Rudas Tamás, Péli Gábor. Springer.

Related doctoral researches

Sociological study of language change and -polarization

Doctoral student: Zsófia Rakovics

Advisors: Renáta Németh, PhD and Domonkos Sik, PhD

Analysing the discourse of sustainability in the triad of political publicity, online media platforms and the lay public

Doctoral student: Emese Tóth

Advisors: Balázs János Kocsis, PhD

Related Results

Zsófia Rakovics gave a presentation at the Hungarian Sociological Assocation’s annual meeting

2022.10.15. Presentation

Zsófia Rakovics presented her research results entitled "Analysis of migration discourses based on parliamentary speeches" at the Hungarian Sociological Association’s annual meeting between the 14th and 15th October, 2022 (hosted by the University of Miskolc). The presentation was part of the ’Challenges of international migration’ section.

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Renáta Németh gave a presentation at the Hungarian Sociological Assocation’s annual meeting

2022.10.15. Presentation

Renáta Németh presented her research results entitled "The role of domain knowledge in social research applications of data science" at the Hungarian Sociological Association’s annual meeting between the 14th and 15th October, 2022 (hosted by the University of Miskolc). The presentation was part of the ’Quantitative methodological innovations’ section.

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Zsófia Rakovics and Márton Rakovics gave a presentation at Text.Machine.Society conference

2022.09.20.

Zsófia Rakovics (ELTE RC2S2) and Márton Rakovics (ELTE RC2S2) gave a presentation at the Text.Machnine.Society conference (organized by ELTE RC2S2) entitled „Analysis of parlementary speeches with document embedding” on 20.09.2022.

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Renáta Németh gave a presentation at the Text.Machine.Society conference

2022.09.20.

Renáta Németh (ELTE RC2S2) gave a presentation at the Text.Machnine.Society conference (organized by ELTE RC2S2) entitled „Researching language polarization with NLP: methodological challenges based on a scoping review (generalizability, role of domain knowledge, mixed methods, causal inference)” on 20.09.2022.

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Árpád Knap, Tímea Emese Tóth and Ildikó Barna gave a presentation at Text.Machine.Society conference

2022.09.20.

Árpád Knap (ELTE RC2S2), Tímea Emese Tóth (ELTE RC2S2) and Ildikó Barna (ELTE RC2S2) gave a presentation at the Text.Machnine.Society conference (organized by ELTE RC2S2) entitled „Emotions in the word embeddings of articles about Trianon Peace Treaty and the Holocaust, and possible tools for automated emotion detection” on 20.09.2022.

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Jakab Buda, Bori Simonovits and Renáta Németh gave a presentation at Text.Machine.Society conference

2022.09.20.

Jakab Buda (ELTE RC2S2), Bori Simonovits (ELTE PPK), Renáta Németh (ELTE RC2S2) gave a presentation at Text.Machine.Society conference (organized by ELTE RC2S2) entitled „Official discrimination? – Measuring attentional discrimination using natural language processing” on 20.09.2022.

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Jakab Buda – Renáta Németh – Bori Simonovits – Gábor Simonovits: The language of discrimination: assessing attention discrimination by Hungarian local governments

2022.09.14. Publication

Jakab Buda, Renáta Németh and co-authors published their results in Language Resources and Evaluation (D1).

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Rakovics Zsófia (2022): Demonstrating potentials in the application of the Temporal Positive Pointwise Mutual Information (TPPMI) temporal word-embedding model – The change in meaning of the words in the prime ministers’ speeches

2022.07.03. Publication

Zsófia Rakovics’s new publication is out now which is published in the new compilation ’Van új a nap alatt’ from Angelusz Róbert College for Advanced Studies. In relation to our OTKA research, the paper can be accessible in Hungarian.

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Zsófia Rakovics, Márton Rakovics (2022): Semantic evolution of words in Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s speeches using a temporal word embedding model focusing on the issue of migration

2022.06.22. Conference poster

Zsófia Rakovics and Márton Rakovics will display the results of their research entitled "Semantic evolution of words in Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán's speeches using a temporal word embedding model focusing on the issue of migration" at the poster section of the 8th International Conference on Computational Social Science IC2S2 (The [...]

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Domonkos Sik (2022): Populist Juggling with Fear – the Case of Hungary

2022.06.11. Presentation

Domonkos Sik gave a presentation entitled "Populist Juggling with Fear – the Case of Hungary" at The End of “Freedom” in Central and Eastern Europe? Addressing the Challenges of an Illiberal Turn (9-11. June 2022) conference organized by Andrássy University Budapest. 

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Zsófia Rakovics (2022): Analyzing the semantic evolution of words related to migration in prime ministerial speeches using a temporal word embedding model

2022.06.03. Presentation

Zsófia Rakovics gave a presentation at the annual conference of the Centre for Social Sciences, entitled "Analyzing the semantic evolution of words related to migration in prime ministerial speeches using a temporal word embedding model" on 3 June, 2022.

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Emese Tímea Tóth (2022): Analysis of the Twitter discourse on sustainability using the methods of natural language processing

2022.06.03. Presentation

Tímea Emese Tóth gave a presentation entitled "Analysis of the Twitter discourse on sustainability using the method of natural language processing" at the Centre for Social Sciences' annual conference on June 3, 2022. The performance was a great success, with Emese receiving the Special Award for the Best Doctoral Presentation [...]

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Tímea Emese Tóth (2021): Analysis of the Twitter Discourse on Sustainability Using Natural Language Processing

2022.05.24. Publication

Emese Tímea Tóth, a member of our research group, writes about the sustainability discourse on Twitter. Mesi's doctoral topic, related to our OTKA research, examines the discourse of sustainability in the triad of political publicity, online media platforms and the lay public.

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Ildikó Barna, Árpád Knap (2022): Analysis of the Thematic Structure and Discursive Framing in Articles about Trianon and the Holocaust in the Online Hungarian Press Using LDA Topic Modelling

2022.05.16. Publication

The latest publication by Ildikó Barna and Árpád Knap was published in the journal Nationalities Papers (D1). In their paper, they examined the thematic structure and discursive framing in newspaper articles related to the Trianon Peace Treaty and the Holocaust using LDA topic models and qualitative analysis. The article is [...]

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