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Statistics, Politics and Policy

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Themes and Topics in Parliamentary Oversight Hearings: A New Direction in Textual Data Analysis

James Sanders
  • London School of Economics, Department of Government, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Giulio Lisi
  • London School of Economics, Department of Government, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey
  • Corresponding author
  • London School of Economics, Department of Government, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-04-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2017-0012


This paper contributes to the growing empirical work on deliberation in legislatures by proposing a novel approach to analysing parliamentary hearings using both thematic and topic modelling textual analysis software. We explore variations in deliberative quality across economic policy type (fiscal policy, monetary policy and financial stability) and across parliamentary chambers (Commons and Lords) in UK select committee oversight hearings during the 2010–2015 Parliament. Our overall focus is not only to suggest a multi-method approach to the textual analysis of parliamentary data, but also to explore more substantive aspects of parliamentary oversight, such as: (1) the extent to which oversight varies between unelected and elected policy makers; and (2) whether parliamentarians conduct oversight more forcefully or more along partisan lines when they are challenging fellow politicians as opposed to central bank officials. Our findings suggest consistent differences in deliberative styles between types of hearings (fiscal, monetary, financial stability) and between chambers (Commons, Lords).


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-04-19

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Citation Information: Statistics, Politics and Policy, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 153–194, ISSN (Online) 2151-7509, ISSN (Print) 2194-6299, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/spp-2017-0012.

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