Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Exploring and Uncovering British Eurosceptism in the Dark Archive

Here is another in our series of guest posts by those researchers who plan to use the archive for topics of particular interest to them:

Richard Deswarte - 'Exploring and Uncovering British Eurosceptism in the Dark Archive'

Britain's relationship to and subsequent engagement in the process of European integration is one of the most important political, economic and social developments of the last 50 years. This relationship has always been controversial even before the UK in 1973 joined the EEC, as it then was, and has certainly remained controversial ever since. The views and arguments of those individuals and groups who have opposed British membership, commonly referred to over the last twenty years as 'Euroscepticism' has been one of the enduring elements of British political and media debate. In the previous 15 years - exactly the period of the Web Domain dataset - much of this debate has been undertaken on the Web with many pro and anti-European groups setting up webpages and engaging in debates over the Web via blogs and other postings. To date there has been no dedicated research based on these online sites and debates. In conjunction with more traditional archival research that I am undertaking on British Euroscepticism, my AADDA project will take the opportunity to uncover and analyse the phenomenon of Euroscepticism on the Web.

In doing this research the following tools and digital research methods will be utilised. In the first instance I will engage in some Google style Ngram searching based on such key terms as Euroscepticism, EU, UKIP, Euroreferendum, etc. This should produce some interesting aggregate and qualitiative results, and patterns relating to volume, timing and variety of Websites and references. Following this I will undertake some proximity searching of related terms to see if this brings up different results and patterns. In addition I am keen to see what searching under images, as one can do in the current UK Web Archive, brings in terms of results given what I suspect will be a large number of images on these webpages. In addition if time allows it will be interesting to see if sentiment analysis can be applied to gauge the degrees of negativity of Webpages/websites and how successfully it can do so. Finally I will finish by undertaking some filtering of the results based on such elements as domain type and medium type to see what and if any interesting patterns emerge. At the same time I will be open to consider trying out some of the other tools and methods that the other researchers are finding particularly successful in their case studies.