Might a Global Events Dataset Contribute to Social Movements Research?

Alex Hanna has a recent post over at Bad Hessian about the potential value of a newly released dataset, GDELT, for the study of social movements.  GDELT stands for Global Data on Events, Location and Tone, and is a news-based events data base covering  the globe for the years 1979-2012.  It is in its beta release,  and will eventually be updated regularly on a near real time basis.  One of many cool things about today’s research environment is that though GDELT has been online for less than two months, one can already find R and python code to assist one’s exploration of it (e.g., see here, here, and here).

Events data studies such as those by Khawaja (1994, Soc For, gated), Rasler (1996, ASR, gated), Earl, Soule & McCarthy (2003, ASR, gated), and Dugan & Chenoweth (2012, ASR, gated) are the sort of thing that folks might use GDELT to produce.   To wit, Hanna explains that he is:
planning on using these data to extract protest event counts. Social movement scholars have typically relied on handcoding newspaper archives to count for particular protest events, which is typically time-consuming and also susceptible to selection and description bias (Earl et al. 2004 have a good review of this). This dataset has the potential to take some of the time out of this; the jury is still out on how well it accounts for the biases, though.
Here’s a cool map of protest around Moscow from the Quantifying Memory post:

Quantifying Memory’s GDELT map of Moscow Protest

Here is to hoping that social movement scholars take up the opportunity to explore GDELT.
As a postscript, I encourage anyone who does so to (re)visit this excellent article by David Snyder (1978, JCR, gated).

1 Comment

Filed under Daily Disruption

One response to “Might a Global Events Dataset Contribute to Social Movements Research?

  1. Pingback: Might a Global Events Dataset Contribute to Social Movements Research? | OccuWorld

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