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).
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.