Using computational text analyses to understand people’s support in processes of institutional development

Francisco OLIVOS (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Shared cultural models that we employ to make sense of the world shape the social construction of institutions. Thus, in periods of institutional upheaval, culture plays a pivotal role. A growing body of research in cognitive sciences, psychology, and cognitive sociology has discussed how cultural categories intervene in lawmaking or policymaking. This relationship has been mostly qualitatively examined through the study of policy and lawmaking processes, focusing on the actors that directly engage in the debate. Thus, this study builds on this previous literature to examine how cultural categories of the public can affect processes of institutional change. To answer this question, this study uses the concept of cultural bridges and leverages a large set of norms proposed by citizens in the recent Chilean constitutional debate. The country suffered a recent institutional crisis that led to an elected assembly drafting a new political constitution. The rejected first draft by the population in a referendum included a component of civic engagement through the proposal of norms. I applied natural language processing techniques and text network analysis to understand how the overlap of cultural categories between norms led to the higher or lower support of those norms by the citizens themselves. The findings indicated that norms with a higher overlap of categories with other norms, thus, cultural bridges, elicited a higher number of citizens’ endorsement. Thus, this study corroborates the assumption that norms and policies that make sense for the public yield higher support.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2022
EventHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference: Health and Wellbeing in (Post-) Pandemic Times - Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China
Duration: 3 Dec 20223 Dec 2022
Conference number: 23


ConferenceHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference
CityHong Kong
OtherAs an unprecedented public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the focal concern of sociologists around the world. Globally, there have been over six hundred million confirmed cases, including over six million of deaths. Over the past few years, we have experienced the tremendous impacts brought by the pandemic on various domains of life. Apart from infected and death cases, we have seen a surge of mental health issues, suicides, domestic violence, as well as plummeting economic growth and escalating unemployment and poverty rates. Whether to embrace the “new normal” by easing public health and social distancing measures is a contentious issue as much among world leaders as ordinary citizens. From a sociological perspective, most impacts brought by the pandemic are believed to be structural and long lasting. As not everyone has equal access to vaccines, personal protective equipment, healthcare and other resources, health and social inequalities are expected to be worsening. There are also concerns about the lack of affordable childcare and technological equipment for attending online classes during pandemic times, which would have lingering effects on education, digital, and social inequalities across generations.

Against this background, this conference aims to address the pressing issues of health and wellbeing in pandemic and post-pandemic times from a sociological perspective. It provides a platform for scholars, students, and other stakeholders to discuss the implications of the pandemic for health and social inequalities among other issues. On that basis, participants will explore practical and policy responses to enhance health and wellbeing in the (post-)pandemic condition.
Internet address


  • Culture
  • Computational text analysis
  • Cultural betweeness
  • Law
  • institutions


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