Relational Templates in Policy Documents

John W. Mohr, University of California, Santa Barbara
Robin Wagner-Pacifici, The New School for Social Research
Ronald Breiger, University of Arizona
Devin Cornell, University of California, Santa Barbara

Our recent work has emphasized a family of text analysis procedures that may be applied to public policy documents and that share two principal qualities: they are low-tech, and they are aimed at uncovering—not resolving or disambiguating—strategic uncertainties in texts. We extend this line of work as applied to US policy documents in the national security domain, beginning by noting that these documents are permeated by relational network structures, some explicit (regional alliances, treaty alliances) and some implicit. The latter are of particular interest to us, and include templates of neighborhood relations (protecting, bullying), statehood (a world of strong states, rogue states, fragile states, failed states), and friendship, ally, and partner relations. (What does it mean, for example, for a state to have friends? Which type of alter does the US join with in order to combat bullies in various neighborhoods?) We identify various relational templates in national security documents and indicate how taking them into account enhances interpretation of international relations. We present exploratory formal techniques for aiding in the analysis of relational templates.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 34. Big Data and Its Discontents: Assumptions about Reading History in the Automated Analysis of Texts