Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Government
Visualizing co-occurrence structures in political language: content analysis, multidimensional scaling, and uprooted cluster trees
Journal of diplomatic language
Date of Publication
Demonstrates the integrated use of combinations of (1) word-use frequency counts, (2) analysis of co-occurrences, (3) nonmetric multidimensional scaling, and (4) hierarchical cluster analysis trees in visualizing and revealing underlying thematic patterns that exist within public political language. As exemplary political 'texts', four of George Bush's post-9/11 public addresses to the U.S. Congress are examined. The President's September 20, 2001 special address to Congress, and the subsequent three State of the Union addresses were combined into a composite 'post-9/11 addresses' text file. Frequently-occurring thematic keywords (and synonyms) were then identified, using the CONCORDANCE program. The resultant co-occurrence matrix of keywords was then analyzed using the HAMLET program, several matrix conversion programs written by the author, MINISSA (MDSx version), QCLUST, and TREEVIEW. The derived two- and three-dimensional scaling plots of word co-occurrence patterns and the plots of the unrooted cluster trees reveal a consistent, bifurcated 'us vs. them', 'civilized forces of good' vs. 'barbaric forces of evil' overall rhetorical structure in these post-9/11 political addresses to Congress. Concludes that this integrated approach to exploration and visualization of word co-occurrences is a useful heuristic for isolating generalized patterns within public political documents and speeches-though epistemologically it is more appropriate when used in the context of an 'interpretive' or 'verstehen' framework which treats speeches as social reality constructions, rather than within a stricter confirmatory, logical positivist framework. ....