Understanding political debate and policy decisions using big data (ARC Discovery)

Professor Jenny Lewis, Professor Andrew Turpin, Dr Erik Baekkeskov, Dr Andrea Carson and Dr Roberto Foa

This project aims to empirically test a novel framework for analysing the relationship between political debates and policy decisions. Using digital sources and computational modelling approaches, the project team plans to investigate three specific issues to test this framework. These issues, all drawn from different policy sectors, will be examined as a series of debates (involving actors, framing and forums) linked to specific decisions, over the last two decades. It aims to produce conclusions about how debates shape policy decisions for different issues, thus leading to recommendations for how the link between political debates and policy decisions can be improved in Australia and elsewhere, providing potential benefits for politics and policy-making.

This project will improve our understanding of how political debates become policy decisions, using digital sources and computational approaches. Its main benefit will be recommendations on how to improve the link from debate to policy decisions. It will also provide guidance on how political debates can be improved for specific policy issues. Finally, it will generate large datasets that will be made available for other researchers to use in studying how to improve the policy-making process.