Leveraging computational social science by combining hyperlink and textual analyses

Leveraging computational social science by combining hyperlink and textual analyses: The case of online anti-human trafficking networks

Kirsten Foot & Amoshaun Toft

Three primary methods have become prominent in research on online issue movements: text, feature, and hyperlink analyses. Textual analysis of website content allows researchers to focus on a variety of rhetorical and discursive elements, including the narrative dimensions of collective action. Feature analysis affords insight into actors’ web production strategies and the types of participation they enable. Computational network analysis of hyperlink formations enables understanding of the structural-relational architecture of an issue movement. However, few studies of large-scale online issue networks have combined computational link analysis with methods that require human interpretation, such as web real estate analysis, narrative, or feature analysis. The combination affords better insights into the online dynamics of issue movements by enabling inquiry into a broad range of research questions.

Foot, K. & Toft, A. “Leveraging computational social science by combining hyperlink and textual analyses: The case of online anti-human trafficking networks.” Poster presented at the Journal of Information, Technology and Politics conference “The future of computational social science,” Seattle Washington, May 16-17, 2011. *Recipient of best poster award.

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