Topic Models as Affiliation Networks (with Ann Mische and Leslie MacColman)
Topic modeling is one suite of tools that has become prominent in the burgeoning field of computational cultural sociology. Despite this, widespread use of these methods in cultural sociology is hampered by the more general question of how cultural discourse maps onto action. This paper reflects an attempt to address this question by blending topic modeling procedures and network analysis strategies to examine how actors’ discourse can be used to account for variation in social action. We use original data from debates over environmental sustainability to illustrate how “discursive communities” of authors can be extracted from topic model solutions for further statistical modeling with non-discursive attribute data.