POLTE turns from theoretical accounts of the changes in political temporalities to concrete empirical findings – politicians’ temporal rhetorics in the Finnish parliament.

Two large datasets comprising Finnish parliamentary records of plenary sessions (1976–2021) and the Library of Parliament oral history collection of veteran MPs’ interviews (1988–2020) have been fully digitized, grammatically parsed, and enriched with metadata to detect prevailing and emergent phenomena. POLTE combines theoretical approaches from transdisciplinary narrative studies, political science and conceptual history with computational modeling based on linguistic features. These insights are examined based on contextual metadata evaluation, detailed local analysis and explorative data mining of the large political material of parliamentary talk.

POLTE asks how politicians generate narrative trajectories of change and continuity for political use. Three major temporal orientations are considered in all the questions: the present as the motivation for all temporal ordering, the past as material for retellings and the future as envisioned possibilities. POLTE expects the past to be made relevant and the future imagined for the purpose of promoting action in regard to today’s issues. This also means that the present projected as either crisis or stability instructs the sense of urgency or deliberation in the talk. With the multi-method analysis of our grammatically parsed and metadata-enriched data, we expect to redirect the study of political temporalities and highlight their importance in parliamentary rhetorics.



Academy of Finland