Cindarella Petz: Modelling political trials as networks – perks, pitfalls, and possibilities

The following talk focuses on the perks, pitfalls, and possibilities of employing network analysis in a case study* to identify and to evaluate political judiciary during the Dollfuß-Schuschnigg-Regime (1933–38). I propose to model these court trials as networks, which allow to utilize networks as epistemic tools for structural analysis. The case study presented in this talk is based on a dataset of over 1,800 court cases tried at the provincial courts of Vienna in 1935, which was curated in the process of a project on political repression by the University of Vienna (Wenninger/Mesner/Ardelt 2015–17). 

The Dollfuß-Schuschnigg-Regime (1933–38) was an authoritarian regime established already before the „Anschluss” to NS-Germany in 1938, in which the Austrian First Republic was transformed by its previously democratically elected chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß (1933–38), and his successor (and secretary of justice) Kurt Schuschnigg (1934–38) after a successful „cold coup” in March 1933. Whereas the transformation of the former democracy and changes in the legal and penal system have been studied qualitatively in great detail — among which the ban of opposing political parties, radicalization of criminal law, control of the judiciary, and empowerment of the police—, a quantitative-based analysis of these transformations and of the actual penal practices were still due. In this talk, I describe how the combination of quantitative-based approaches with network analysis and a qualitative evaluation and contextualization was able to further historical insight on the judicial practice and structural forms of political judiciary in the provincial courts of Vienna during the consolidated phase of the regime. Additionally, I refer to chances and pitfalls of the proposed mixed methods approach to provide a critical perspective to model big historical data, and address limitations of working with judicial records.

Vortrag im Rahmen des „Digital History“-Forschungskolloquiums
Zeit: Mittwoch, 19. Januar 2022, 16-18 Uhr
Ort: Zoom-Konferenz (Zugang auf Anfrage oder via Mailingliste)

Cite this article as:
digitalhistory: Cindarella Petz: Modelling political trials as networks – perks, pitfalls, and possibilities, in: Digital History Berlin (Blog), erschienen am: 17. Januar 2022, Internet: https://dhistory.hypotheses.org/1080.

*Published in: Petz, Cindarella & Pfeffer, Jürgen (2021). Configuration to Conviction. Network Structures of Political Judiciary in the Austrian Corporate State. Social Networks, vol. 66, July 2021, pp. 185–201. DOI= 10.1016/j.socnet.2021.03.001.


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