Barend Lutz (MA - International Studies).

Measuring public sentiment on democracy from Twitter

I am a student of International Studies focusing on bridging the gap between emerging technologies and international political governance.

The focus of my thesis research is on measuring expressions of public support for democracy in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. This is achieved by analyzing international  publically gathered tweets with automated content analysis, sentiment analysis and natural language processing software.

The research has the dual purpose of firstly creating a new methodological framework for measuring public expressions from the oft neglected sector of society – namely internet users, and more specifically micro bloggers on the social media site, Twitter. Secondly the research aims to show the declining support for contemporary democracy as expressed by a substantial sector of society.

If the research is successful it will offer a novel method of gathering public opinion that could be faster and cheaper than traditional methods of measuring public opinion. The exploratory analysis of sentiments on democracy could also illustrate the declining support that some political scientists believe democracy is facing today.

Twitter: @barendlutz

My contact details: bflutz@ml.sun.ac.za