Examining Networks of Influence: Using Semantic Similarity Clustering and Affiliation Network Analysis to Reveal Lobbying Dynamics

22 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2014

See all articles by Alexander Furnas

Alexander Furnas

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Lee Drutman

Sunlight Foundation

Date Written: June 28, 2013

Abstract

Scholars of lobbying have been limited in their ability to measure organizational lobbying agendas, positions and coalitions. They are either forced to rely on time-consuming interviews or overly-broad Lobbying Disclosure Act-mandated issue codes. We propose a new approach. We use a hierarchical agglomerative clustering (HAC) algorithm to group bills within LDA issue codes based on their similarity, calculated using latent semantic analysis of a corpus we constructed from summary text provided by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). This technique allows us to disaggregate within the existing categories and label individual bills with higher resolution than was previously possible. We then use the clustering groups to label bills within a weighted affiliation network based on the volume of lobbying by a given industry on a given bill. The topic labels of bills within the network provide more detailed insight into the specific policies or provisions different industries have supported, and might be likely to support in the future. As a test, we apply this approach to lobbying on immigration legislation during the 109th-112th Congresses.

Prepared for the 6th annual meeting of the Political Networks Section of the American Political Science Association (PolNet), June 28th 2013.

Keywords: Lobbying, Immigration, Clustering, Networks, PolNet, Latent Semantic Analysis, Lobbying Disclosure Act

Suggested Citation

Furnas, Alexander and Drutman, Lee, Examining Networks of Influence: Using Semantic Similarity Clustering and Affiliation Network Analysis to Reveal Lobbying Dynamics (June 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2492568 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2492568

Alexander Furnas (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Lee Drutman

Sunlight Foundation ( email )

1818 N Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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