Luke Blaxill discusses the ways in which Big Data techniques can introduce quantification into long-standing historical debates. His example is the case of female MPs in the House of Commons. How is the language they use different to that of male MPs and do they represent “women’s issues” more effectively than men? Blaxill uses text mining techniques to investigate the feminist claim that women’s contributions in the Commons are substantively different to men’s and whether any “gender effect” is strengthening or weakening with the rise in female numbers, especially since 1997.
Luke Blaxill is the Draper’s Company Junior Research Fellow at Hertford College, University of Oxford. He is a historian of 19th and 20th century British politics, particularly the language of Parliament and election campaigning.