Discursive Fields and Intra-party Influence in Colombian Politics
- Author(s): Cornell, Devin J.
- Advisor(s): Charles, Maria;
- Mohr, John W.
- et al.
When are politicians influential in shifting party discourse? This study explores how same-party politicians influence one another, and how this influence leads to changes to a party's larger discourse. I suggest that the extent to which politicians are able to influence other party politicians depends on how their messages situate them within the party’s discursive field. I further suggest that certain messages are particularly influential when distinctive within a given time period. To assess this effect, I use a case study of just under 1 million Tweets from politicians in the Colombian political party Centro Democrático from 2015-2017. I use topic modeling and network analysis to measure influence within a dynamic discursive field, and a genetic learning algorithm to identify types of messages, as topics, which constitute the field under which we observe the strongest linkage between field position and influence. I find that politicians are influential when posting about current events and when creating symbolic distinctions which are central to the party ideology - in the case of Centro Democrático, distinctions between the concept of peace itself and the peace process developing in Colombia. These results suggest that the discursive field can be a powerful tool for analysis of influence and political discourse.