For this assignment, I plan to use data to illustrate how the United States Congress works and responds to societal challenges. Specifically, I want to illuminate how Congress responded to the 2008 financial crisis through text data such as bills, reports, and hearings. What was the legislative response to the crisis? Who were the key actors and players? What was the content of successful laws?
I am working with data that is accessible through .gov websites such as the Government Printing Office. There are also some academic efforts to parse bills and laws into sections that I will use. My hope is that this approach will also be useful for current congressional activities.
More generally, and beyond the scope of this assignment, I’d be interested people’s ideas about how data-driven approaches could help us understand and analyze the processes of government and democracy.