Narrative and computational text analysis in business and economic history
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScandinavian Economic History Review. 2021, . 10.1080/03585522.2021.1984299
Recent calls from within economics for increased attention to narrative open the door to possible cross-fertilisation between economics and more humanistically oriented business and economic history. Indeed, arguments for economists to take narratives seriously and incorporate them into economic theory have some similarities with classic calls for a revival of narrative in history and abandonment of ‘scientific’ history. Both share an approach to explaining social phenomena based on the micro-level. This article examines how new methods in computational text analysis can be employed to further the goals of prioritising narrative in economics and history but also challenge a focus on the micro-level. Through a survey of the most frequently used tools of computational text analysis and an overview of their uses to date across the social sciences and humanities, this article shows how such methods can provide economic and business historians tools to respond to and engage with the ‘narrative turn’ in economics while also building on and offering a macro-level corrective to the focus on narrative in history.