8. Cyclicity of Real Estate-Related Trends: Topic Modelling and Sentiment Analysis on German Real Estate News (2021)

Together with Franziska Plößl and Tobias Just. Forthcoming in: Journal of European Real Estate Research.

The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse the news coverage and sentiment of real estate-related trends in Germany. Trends are considered as being stable and long-term. If the news coverage and sentiment of trends underlies cyclicity, this could impact investors’ behaviour. For instance, in the case of increased reporting on sustainability issues, investors may be inclined to invest more in sustainable buildings, assuming that this is of growing importance to their clients. Hence, investors could expect higher returns when a trend topic goes viral. With the help of topic modelling, incorporating seed words partially generated via word embeddings, almost 170,000 newspaper articles published between 1999 and 2019 by a major German real estate news provider are analysed and assigned to real estate-related trends. This dataset is then analysed based on whether the tone of the news coverage of a specific trend is subject to change. The articles concerning urbanisation and globalisation account for the largest shares of reporting. However, the shares are subject to change over time, both in terms of news coverage and sentiment. In particular, the topic of sustainability illustrates a clearly increasing trend with cyclical movements throughout the examined period. Overall, the digitalisation trend has a highly positive connotation within the analysed articles, while regulation displays the most negative sentiment.

7. The Sound of Silence. On the (In)visibility of Economists in the Media (2021)

In: Working Papers of the Priority Programme 1859 “Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour” No 30 (April 2021), Berlin LINK

One way for economists to influence economic policy and society as a whole is to shape what Robert Shiller has called “economic narratives”. This, in turn, puts the media in their role as professional storytellers in a central position. In this paper, I investigate how economists have been covered by the media in a long-term perspective. Particularly, I address two questions: How has the quantitative visibility of economists in the media developed over time? And how can news stories covering economists be characterized in terms of their content? I answer these questions in two steps. First, I provide a comparison of economists’ quantitative media visibility in international newspapers. Second, building on a corpus of more than 12,000 newspaper articles, I conduct a case study on the German Council of Economic Experts. Using various text mining approaches, I survey four features of newspaper coverage: topics, tonality, temporal perspective, and the role of individuals. Finally, based on extensive close reading, I briefly discuss two key turning points in the media history of economists, namely the 1980s and the late 1990s/early 2000s. The main finding is that economists have indeed become silent compared to their heyday of economic expertise in the 1960s, but that they have not been as silent as is often claimed.

6. Turn, Turn, Turn. A Digital History of German Historiography, 1950-2019 (2021)

In: Working Papers of the Priority Programme 1859 “Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour” No 31 (April 2021), Berlin. Together with Tobias A. Jopp and Mark Spoerer LINK

The increasing availability of digital text collections and the corresponding establishment of methods for computer-assisted analysis open up completely new perspectives on historical textual sources. In this paper, we use the possibilities of text mining to investigate the history of German historiography. The aim of the paper is to use topic models, i.e. methods of automated content analysis, to explore publication trends within German historiography since the end of World War II and, thus, to gain data-based insights into the history of the discipline. For this purpose, we evaluate a text corpus consisting of more than 9,000 articles from eleven leading historiographical journals. The following questions are addressed: (1) Which research subjects mattered, and in how far did this change over time? (2) In how far does this change reflect historiographical paradigm shifts, or ‘turns’?(3) Do the data allow to map the emergence of these turns, i.e., can we periodize/historicize them? (4) Which of the proclaimed turns mattered in the sense that it is actually reflected in the research themes we find, and which turn does not?

5. Diskurs, Narrativ, Sonderweg, Hitler, Turn. Konjunkturen geschichtswissenschaftlicher Begriffe im „Clio Viewer“ (2020)

In: Working Papers of the Priority Programme 1859 “Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour” No 27 (October 2020). With Tobias Jopp and Mark Spoerer (in German, Link. Forthcoming in: Historische Zeitschrift)

At the suggestion of a (non-representative) Twitter survey among historians, we would like to present in this article a corpus of essays from eleven German historiographical journals and illustrate how the use of various historical terms has changed since 1950. The aim is not to present a “digital conceptual history” of various terms or even to draw conclusions about the development of the discipline. Rather, our aim is to present several terms and their “business cycles” in order to lay the foundation for a more in-depth discussion of digital historical methods and the use of a “Clio Viewer”. We pay special attention to discussing the methodological pitfalls associated with the use of simple keyword searches.

4. Zur Konjunktur des Zählens – oder wie man Quantifizierung quantifiziert. Eine empirische Analyse der Anwendung quantitativer Methoden in der deutschen Geschichtswissenschaft (2020)

In: Historische Zeitschrift, Issue 310, No. 3, p. 580–621. With Michael Buchner, Tobias Jopp, and Mark Spoerer (in German, Link. For an English version, see here

The establishment of social history as ‘historical social science’ during the 1970s added quantitative-statistical methods to historians’ methodological toolbox, complementing existing qualitative-hermeneutical approaches. Since the days of the ‘Bielefeld school’, technological progress has provided ever more powerful and user-friendly software tools principally facilitating quantitative analyses. However, quantitative approaches towards historical research questions seem to be applied mainly in few sub-disciplines such as economic history. A reason for this methodological restraint might be widespread skepticism towards quantitative methods among the many supporters of the ‘new cultural history’. Yet, the question as to how intensively quantitative methods have been used in German-speaking historiography has attracted only little empirical research. We aim at filling this gap by exploring a text corpus consisting of more than 7,600 articles published in ten German historical journals, among others the HZ, and covering the period 1951-2016. Our approach is both qualitative and quantitative in nature, combining the counting of tables and figures with a lexicographical inquiry and an extensive discussion. Our results confirm the hypothesis that the cultural turn largely reversed the growing trend towards application of quantitative methods in many parts of historiography. However, the ‘quantification of quantification’ holds some surprises.

3. What’s in the news? (Erfolgs-) Rezepte für das wissenschaftliche Arbeiten mit digitalisierten Zeitungen (Panel at the DHd conference 2020 in Paderborn)

In: Schöch, Christof. (2020). DHd 2020 Spielräume: Digital Humanities zwischen Modellierung und Interpretation. Konferenzabstracts, p. 70-72. With Bernhard Liebl, Sarah Oberbichler, Torsten Roeder, Jana Keck, Estelle Bunout, and Marten Düring. (Link)

2. Von Wirtschaftsweisen und Topic Models: 50 Jahre ökonomische Expertise aus einer Text Mining Perspektive (2019)

In: Patrick Sahle (Hg.): DHd 2019 Digital Humanities: multimedial & multimodal. Konferenzabstracts. Frankfurt, p. 240–245. (In German, Link)

The increase in the availability of digital texts presents new challenges and opportunities for research in the fields of contemporary and economic history. The present article examines how automated content analysis using Topic Modelling can be used to study a historically significant corpus: the annual reports of the German Council of Economic Experts, one of the most prominent bodies in economic policy advice. The aim is to show how text mining methods in general and topic models in particular open up new approaches to the historical analysis of the work of the Councisl, often referred to as the “Olympus of Economists”, and how the Council’s more than 50 years of work can be viewed in its entirety. To this end, the topics of all the reports published between 1965 and 2015, a corpus of about seven million words, are presented with the help of a topic model. The results are beeing compared to actual economic developments, and further possibilities of the Topic Modeling approach are illustrated.

1. Economic History Goes Digital: Topic Modeling the Journal of Economic History (2019)

In: Cliometrica 13 (1), p. 83–125. (Link)

Digitization and computer science have established a completely new set of methods with which to analyze large collections of texts. One of these methods is particularly promising for economic historians: topic models, i.e., statistical algorithms that automatically infer the content from large collections of texts. In this article, I present an introduction to topic modeling and give an initial review of the research using topic models. I illustrate their capacity by applying them to 2675 articles published in the Journal of Economic History between 1941 and 2016. By comparing the results to traditional research on the JEH and to recent studies on the cliometric revolution, I aim to demonstrate how topic models can enrich economic historians’ methodological toolboxes.

Work in progress

– Im Olymp der Ökonomen. Eine digitale Geschichte der Resonanz wirtschaftspolitischer Experten in Deutschland 1965 bis 2015

The „Olympus“ of Economic Policy Advice. A Digital History of Economic Policy Experts in Germany 1965-2015, Doctoral dissertation, defended at University of Regensburg in November 2020; see here

Newspaper articles (selection)

Von Volkswirten und Volksvertretern, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 25.05.2021
Experten im politischen Sturm, Süddeutsche Zeitung 22.03.2021
– Aus der Geschichte lernen, Börsen-Zeitung 09.12.2014
– 500 Jahre Bank- und Geldgeschichte, Börsen-Zeitung 23.08.2014
– Yoga für den ,,Büro-Krieger‘‘, Börsen-Zeitung 23.08.2014
– Trend zur Nachhaltigkeit bei Kunden ungebrochen, Börsen-Zeitung 05.04.2014
– Dubai baut wieder in den Himmel, Börsen-Zeitung 15.03.2014
– Renzis Pläne fallen durch, Börsen-Zeitung 27.02.2014