Where and how do we study violence?

Ariel Ahram brought this fascinating report to my attention: Rex Douglass and Candace Rondeaux, “MINING THE GAPS: A Text Mining-Based Meta-Analysis of the Current State of Research on Violent Extremism”.

A few particularly interesting findings from their analysis of published work on conflict:

  • It is impossible for anyone to keep up with the literature: “The sample of academic articles collected for this study contain over 14 million words. An average individual researcher would require over a year and a half to read that body of work.”
  • We need more work on Asia! 🙂 “topics related to violent extremism in South and Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, and Latin America are underrepresented, while European and Middle Eastern conflicts are overrepresented”
  • Qualitative and social network empirical research and formal models are all substantially under-used: “Few studies on P/CVE-relevant topics employ social network analysis or ethnographic methods—a stunning finding given the growing body of anecdotal evidence on the centrality of social bonds and and cultural currency in conflicts shaped by identity politics. Likewise, although they are a near prerequisite for theory development in many areas of economics and political science, formal models are a niche commodity rarely touched on in much of the literature reviewed for this study.”
  • Very little use of local sourcing or data (a topic I’ll come back to soon, I hope): “Fewer still rely on primary source materials in local languages or locally collected data in their analysis. Almost none of the top scholars hail from the countries and regions most impacted by the threat of violent extremism”
  • Jim Fearon, Ted Gurr, and Bruce Hoffman are pretty big deals when it comes to citations
  • Citation clustering (something I particularly, though not exclusively, notice with economists – cursory cite to Don Horowitz or Thucydides or Hobbes, and then off to the races ignoring every other political scientist!): “We find that formal modelers cluster, as do economists and qualitative scholars”
  • Figure 7 is pretty fascinating, on how citations around particular authors relate to another – you can see the OCV-ish cluster, the Peace Science cluster, the security studies cluster, the social movements cluster, etc.

One thought on “Where and how do we study violence?

  1. Pingback: « Rex Douglass

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