Does Scientific Progress Affect Culture? A Digital Text Analysis

41 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2019

See all articles by Michela Giorcelli

Michela Giorcelli

University of California - Los Angeles; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nicola Lacetera

University of Toronto - Strategic Management; University of Toronto at Mississauga - Department of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Astrid Marinoni

University of Toronto

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

We study the interplay between scientific progress and culture through text analysis on a corpus of about eight million books, with the use of techniques and algorithms from machine learning. We focus on a specific scientific breakthrough, the theory of evolution through natural selection by Charles Darwin, and examine the diffusion of certain key concepts that characterized this theory in the broader cultural discourse and social imaginary. We find that some concepts in Darwin’s theory, such as Evolution, Survival, Natural Selection and Competition diffused in the cultural discourse immediately after the publication of On the Origins of Species. Other concepts such as Selection and Adaptation were already present in the cultural dialogue. Moreover, we document semantic changes for most of these concepts over time. Our findings thus show a complex relation between two key factors of long-term economic growth – science and culture. Considering the evolution of these two factors jointly can offer new insights to the study of the determinants of economic development, and machine learning is a promising tool to explore these relationships.

Keywords: science, culture, economic history, text analysis, machine learning

JEL Classification: C190, C890, N000, O000, O390, Z190

Suggested Citation

Giorcelli, Michela and Lacetera, Nicola and Marinoni, Astrid, Does Scientific Progress Affect Culture? A Digital Text Analysis (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7499, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3338855

Michela Giorcelli (Contact Author)

University of California - Los Angeles ( email )

9262 Bunche Hall
315 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, CA CA 90024
United States
650-630-9648 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.giorcellimichela.com

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.giorcellimichela.com

Nicola Lacetera

University of Toronto - Strategic Management ( email )

Canada

University of Toronto at Mississauga - Department of Management

Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Astrid Marinoni

University of Toronto ( email )

Canada

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
21
Abstract Views
299
PlumX Metrics