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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Semantic networks represent and model messages and discourse as a relational structure, emphasizing patterns of interdependence among semantic units or actors-concepts. This chapter traces the epistemological roots of semantic networks, then illustrates with examples how this approach can contribute to the study of political rhetoric or opinions. It focuses on three levels of analysis: cognitive mapping at the individual level, discourse analysis at the interpersonal level, and framing and salience at the collective level. Drawing from the rich literature on natural language processing and machine learning, the chapter introduces readers to essential methodological considerations when extracting and building up semantic networks from textual data. It also offers a discussion on the relevance of semantic networks to analyzing public opinion, especially as it manifests in discursive and deliberative theories of democracy.

Keywords: discourse analysis, salience, framing, cognitive mapping, text mining, natural language processing, public opinion

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