Project

Big data research in social macro trends

Goal: Using big data sets such as the Google Book corpus, we review social macro trends such as the secularization, politicization, economization, and mediatization of society.

Methods: Python, Social Systems Theory, Functional Differentiation, Google Ngram Viewer, Form Theory, Culturomics

Updates
0 new
1
Recommendations
0 new
0
Followers
0 new
21
Reads
0 new
336

Project log

Steffen Roth
added a research item
What’s trending? Google Trends tracks search trends every day, through- out the day. Social media, smartphone notifications, and unwanted pop-ups keep us abreast of current trends even when we have no inter- est in what is trending on a particular day or in a particular hour. But we might not realize, or might forget, that those surface trends often have very deep, ancient roots. This chapter considers trends from 1950 to 2008 in China and compares them to trends found in other parts of the world. We begin with remarks on the political theories and assumptions traceable to Periclean Athens and republican Rome. We then compare this history to that of China ...
Steffen Roth
added a research item
In mid-2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced the Great Reset, an initiative launched to assert, describe, and shape the direction of an epochal transition brought about by the global coronavirus crisis. Rooted in a European tradition of social theory, this article aims to articulate the broader social context of this scenario and pinpoint its implications for management and organization theory. One of these implications is that our fields face a significant risk of co-performing rather than studying the looming “great transformation” from an economy-to a health-dominated society, thus merely replacing one reductionism with another. It follows that what is required are management and organization theories that analyze rather than ride the macro social trends that shape organizations and their environments. The article concludes that if crises are the golden moments of alternative mainstreams, then for those interested in alternatives to the emerging “new normality” the golden moment to develop the next alternative mainstream theories is now.
Steffen Roth
added a research item
In reviewing the Great Reset, an initiative launched by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in response to the global coronavirus crisis, this perspective article considers the scenario of an epochal transition from capitalism to “restorism”. To facilitate the observation of underlying trends and assumptions, a systems-theoretical framework is developed for the observation of both this Great Reset scenario and those scenarios that are by implication excluded by the WEF vision. It is thus shown that the “shared goals” advocated by the WEF would converge to a transition from a modern pluralist to a “new-normative” order stratified to the primacy of individual, institutional, and planetary health. In discussing sociological implications of this transition, a vision emerges of a new digitally enhanced medieval era where health plays the role once played by religion. In this restorist scenario of a neo-medieval world health society, the emergence of new social strata corresponding to different levels of purity, infection, or pollution would be a probable consequence. The paper concludes that ideas of deliberately caused great resets and other control illusions nurtured by the WEF initiative are barely smarter than and spur what the UN Secretary-General refers to as “wild conspiracy theories”.
Carlton Clark
added a research item
What’s trending? Google Trends tracks search trends every day, throughout the day. Social media, smartphone notifications, and unwanted pop-ups keep us abreast of current trends even when we have no interest in what’s trending on a particular day or in a particular hour. But we might not realize, or might forget, that those surface trends often have very deep, ancient roots. This chapter considers trends from 1950-2008 in China and compares them to trends found in other parts of the world. This research offers insight into of whether Chinese society between 1950 and 2008—not just the People’s Republic of China but Chinese as a language—experiences significant trends in discourse related to politics, law, economy, education, science, mass media, religion, education, art, or sport—the ten function systems covered in Roth and Schütz (2015).
Steffen Roth
added a research item
Seeking to advance a big data approach to social theory, Roth et al. (2017) applied the Google Ngram Viewer toexplore the way the evolution of the function systems of the modern society is reflected in the Google Bookscorpus. The authors produced a highly counterintuitivefinding that the modern Western societies cannot beadequately described as capitalist. In order to respond to the controversies raised by thisfinding, the presentarticle replicates Roth et al. (2017) study while using a superior plotting software that allows to control the riskthat keyword strength can be biased due to the neglect of keyword quantity. Covering the English-, French-, and German-language corpora, the present replication effort has confirmed the existence of distinct trends exhibitedby the individual function systems, such as secularization, the persistent dominance of the political system, andthe relatively lesser role of the economic system. These results are largely consistent with those of Roth et al.(2017) and thus lend credence to the authors’sceptical assessment of the validity of the capitalist semantics. The article concludes by pleading for the routinization of big data-driven checks of the modern social theories.
Steffen Roth
added a research item
This paper explores the potential of big data, such as those compiled by the Google Books project, to inform the dominant theories of the firm that tend to be grounded on strong assumptions about the capitalist nature of the modern society. Combining the novel methodologies of the digital age with Niklas Luhmann's theory of functional differentiation, we draw on big data-driven abductive reasoning to redirect the attention of management scholars away from the dominant contract-based and competence theories of capitalist firms toward organizations navigating the regime of functional differentiation, which is marked by contingent and historically evolving prominence of individual function systems. We conclude that this navigation requires appropriate strategic management tools which are no longer primarily geared to the economic function system but rather entail a radical reconfiguration of the firm as a multifunctional organization.
Steffen Roth
added a research item
Аннотация: Изучение социальных трансформаций и исследования будущего зависят от релевантности нашего знания о современности и прошлом. Целью нашего исследования является изучение эволюции ключевых концептов социальной дифференциации, отраженных в книгопечатной коммуникации в среде русского языка. Основной задачей является тестирование гипотез о правдоподобности описания русской языковой среды в терминах политизации, секуляризации, информатизации и доминирования функциональной системы экономики и капитализма как одной из форм описания этого доминирования в период 1800-2000 годов. В ходе нашего исследования мы использовали графический инструмент Google Ngram Viewer, позволяющий в режиме реального времени отображать временные ряды (графики) нормализованной по количеству книг, опубликованных в течение каждого календарного года, относительной частоты встречаемости n-грамм, включая, например, слова и словосочетания, в крупнейшей в мире диахронической языковой базе данных оцифрованных книг (размеченных текстов) Google Books. С помощью инструментария Google Ngram Viewer мы составили временные ряды (графиков) комбинированных нормализованных частот встречаемости ключевых русских слов, относящихся к 10 различным функциональным системам русскоязычной среды. Результаты исследования подтверждают нарастающую функциональную дифференциацию, сильную политизацию, выраженную секуляризацию и сциентификацию отраженной в книгопечатном дискурсе русскоязычной коммуникации. Отмечается, что экономика была маргинальной функциональной системой до революции. Несмотря на выявленное укрепление позиций экономики после революции и обнаружение относительного апогея влиятельности этой функциональной системы в 50-е – 80-е годы XX века, отсутствие достоверных данных о доминировании функциональной системы экономики противоречит распространенным на уровне здравого смысла и запечатленным в литературе политэкономии и социализма утверждениям о макро-социальных проявлениях капитализма в России в период с 1800 по 2000 год. Abstract: Foresights and futures studies critically depend on the adequacy of our knowledge of the present and the past. This article tests whether the Russian speaking world may be adequately described as secularised and capitalist language area between 1800 and 2000. We are using the Google Ngram Viewer to chart and interpret time series plots of combined frequencies of pertinent keywords in the largest Internet book corpus, the Google Books corpus. The results confirm a growing functional differentiation and suggest that the Russian language area is a secularised, politicised, and scientificised language area which has never been dominated by the economy. Since the First World War, politics became an absolutely dominating, hypertrophied function system. Science became increasingly important in the XX century, particularly in times of the Cold War, being the second most important system in the Russian language area, followed by mass media, law and economy by the end of the XX century. Economy was traditionally a marginal function system during the whole period before the Russian revolution, supporting the idea about a traditionally communitarian character of the Russian system of house-keeping (хозяйство) and house-building (домостроительство).The importance of economy increased only during socialism (particularly during 1950-s —1980-s), ideologically antagonizing mercantilism of the West. Thus, the historical periods of divulgation of socialist views and criticism of capitalism and exploitation overlapped with periods of strengthening positions of this function system within the Russian language area, which alludes to a certain similarity of programmes, standing behind socialist and capitalist societies. We conclude that the sample period may not be characterised as a period with the predominance of political economy or capitalism if we associate capitalism or political economy with any form of over-average importance or even dominance of the economy. This finding contradicts popular commonsense statements, as well as statements memorized within the literature of the political economy and socialism regarding macro-social evidence of capitalism in Russia between 1800 and 2000.
Steffen Roth
added a research item
Highlights • Foresights and futures studies depend on the adequacy of our knowledge of the present and the past. • Big data evidence suggests that the English language area was not capitalist between 1800 and 2000. • Popular social macro trend statements ought to be regularly scrutinised so as to reduce the risk that inadequate trend assumptions are projected into the future. Abstract: As foresights and futures studies depend on the pertinence of our knowledge of the present and the past, this article tests whether the English language area may be adequately described as secularised and capitalist between 1800 and 2000. We are using the Google Ngram Viewer to chart and interpret time series plots of combined frequencies of pertinent keywords in the largest Internet book corpus, the Google Books corpus. The results suggest that the English language area is a secularised, politicised, scientificised, and ultimately also mediatised language area which has never been dominated by the economy. We conclude that the sample period may not be characterised as capitalist if we associate capitalism with any form of over-average importance or even dominance of the economy and suggest that popular social macro trend statements be regularly turned from implicit assumptions into explicit research questions so as to reduce the risk that inadequate trend assumptions are projected into the future.
Steffen Roth
added an update
Modern societies are usually defined as relatively unreligious, dominated by money and power rather than belief in gods. This idea marks them out as modern when compared to traditional societies as well as highlighting the many issues of modernity including capitalism, growth, overproduction and climate change.
But why are we so sure that secularisation and the dominance of politics and economy are in the DNA of modern societies? Our answer to this question defines and confines our problem-solving ability.
 
Steffen Roth
added a research item
If the global brain is a suitable model of the future information society, then one future of research in this global brain will be in its past, which is its distributed memory. In this paper, we draw on Francis Heylighen, Marta Lenartowicz, and Niklas Luhmann to show that future research in this global brain will have to reclaim classical theories of social differentiation in general and theories of functional differentiation in particular to develop higher resolution images of this brain’s function and sub-functions. This claim is corroborated by a brain wave measurement of a considerable section of the global brain. We used the Google Ngram Viewer, an online graphing tool which charts annual counts of words or sentences as found in the largest available corpus of digitalized books, to analyse word frequency time-series plots of key concepts of social differentiation in the English as well as in the Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Italian sub-corpora between 1800 and 2000. The results of this socioencephalography suggest that the global brain’s memory recalls distinct and not yet fully conscious biases to particular sub-functions, which are furthermore not in line with popular trend statement and self-descriptions of modern societies. We speculate that an increasingly intelligent global brain will start to critically reflect upon these biases and learn how to anticipate or even design its own desired futures.
Carlton Clark
added a research item
Using the updated Google Book corpus dataset generated in July 2012, we analyze the largest available corpus of digitalized books to review social macro trends such as the secularization, politicization, economization, and mediatization of society. These familiar trend statements are tested through a comparative analysis of word frequency time-series plots for the English, French, and German language area produced by means of the enhanced Google Ngram Viewer, the online graphing tool that charts annual word counts as found in the Google Book corpus. The results a) confirm that the importance of the political system, religion, economy, and mass media features significant change in time and considerable regional differences and b) suggest that visions of economized or capitalist societies are intellectual artifacts rather than appropriate descriptions of society.
Steffen Roth
added a project reference
Steffen Roth
added a project goal
Using big data sets such as the Google Book corpus, we review social macro trends such as the secularization, politicization, economization, and mediatization of society.