The rise of wealth inequality is well-documented, yet robust calls for redistribution have yet to emerge from within the UN system. How can this be? This is the question to be addressed by Scott Patterson of McGill University, who kicks off OFAI's 2022 Lecture Series with his talk, "Domesticating Wealth Inequality: Hybrid Discourse Analysis of UN General Assembly Speeches, 1971–2018".
Members of the public are cordially invited to attend the talk via Zoom on Wednesday, 29 June at 18:30 CEST:
Meeting ID: 842 8244 2460
Talk abstract: The rise of wealth inequality is well-documented, yet robust calls for redistribution have yet to emerge from within the UN system. How can this be? We argue that discourse on wealth inequality has been gradually, but pervasively, "domesticated" in diplomatic venues. We advance this argument through a hybrid discourse analysis of UN General Assembly speeches that adopts complementary machine learning and interpretive techniques. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of hybrid discourse analysis for several tasks in time-series text analysis. First, we use a multiclass Support Vector Machine to discover rhetorical "eras" that emerge in debates over time. Second, we use Concept Mover Distance – a distributed, pre-trained language model – to estimate the extent of engagement with rhetorical tropes that are relevant to wealth inequality. These tropes were selected through an interpretive analysis of exemplary external texts. Third, we cluster states based on patterns of engagement with key tropes, illustrating changes to the rhetorical topography over time. Beyond our substantive contribution, we aim to close the gap between interpretive and computational text analysis and to demonstrate the advantage of placing these approaches on an even footing.
Speaker biography: Scott Robert Patterson is a PhD candidate in Political Science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His research focus is at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and International Relations – where Artificial Intelligence is treated as both a political phenomenon and a research methodology. Prior to his studies at McGill, Scott received training in Natural Language Processing at the OFAI Language Technology Lab and completed a Master's of Advanced International Studies (M.A.I.S.) at the Diplomatische Akademie Wien.
Co-author Vincent Pouliot is James McGill Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University. He is the author, among others, of International Pecking Orders: The Politics and Practice of Multilateral Diplomacy (Cambridge University Press, 2016).