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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The abundance of civic discourse now observable via digital archives has created an enormous opportunity for researching public opinion. Making use of these data requires understanding the theoretical processes by which they are produced. This chapter introduces satisficing semantic search as one theoretical process that accounts for the content of and form in which discourse is produced. The chapter defines satisficing search processes and explores their implications for the assessment of public opinion from digital archives. It focuses on two key concepts from satisficing search theory: availability, the extent to which discursive material can be found with ease, and aspiration, the extent to which individuals are motivated to find material that precisely represents their underlying views. After defining and describing means of measuring these concepts, the chapter argues that they can be used to detect the strength of both social and political movements.

Keywords: text mining, satisficing, search, discourse, semantic networks, social networks, social media, aspiration, imitation

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