Systems in Language: Text Analysis of Government Reports of the Irish Industrial School System with Word Embedding

Title: Systems in Language: Text Analysis of Government Reports of the Irish Industrial School System with Word Embedding
Authors: Keane, Mark T.Pine, EmilieLeavy, Susan
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Date: 3-Jun-2019
Online since: 2019-07-11T10:49:14Z
Abstract: Industrial Memories is a digital humanities initiative to supplement close readings of a government report with new distant readings, using text analytics techniques. The Ryan Report (2009), the official report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA), details the systematic abuse of thousands of children 15 from 1936 to 1999 in residential institutions run by religious orders and funded and overseen by the Irish State. Arguably, the sheer size of the Ryan Report—over 1 million words— warrants a new approach that blends close readings to witness its findings, with distant readings that help surface system-wide findings embedded in the Report. Although CICA has been lauded internationally for 20 its work, many have critiqued the narrative form of the Ryan Report, for obfuscating key findings and providing poor systemic, statistical summaries that are crucial to evaluating the political and cultural context in which the abuse took place (Keenan, 2013, Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power, and Organizational Culture. Oxford University Press). In this article, we concentrate on describing the distant reading methodology we adopted, using machine learning and text-analytic methods and report on what they surfaced from the 2 Report. The contribution of this work is threefold: (i) it shows how text analytics can be used to surface new patterns, summaries and results that were not apparent via close reading, (ii) it demonstrates how machine learning can be used to annotate text by using word embedding to compile domain-specific semantic lexicons for feature extraction and (iii) it demonstrates how digital humanities methods can be applied to an official state inquiry with social justice impact.
Funding Details: Science Foundation Ireland
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Journal: Digital scholarship in the Humanities
Keywords: Digital humanitiesText analyticsRyan ReportChild Sexual AbuseMachine learningSocial justice
DOI: 10.1016/j.ocemod.2016.09.015
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Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Mathematics and Statistics Research Collection
Earth Institute Research Collection
Insight Research Collection

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