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Demographics and Democracy A Network Analysis of Mongolians’ Political Cognition

As anthropologists study complex societies and large databases, we have to ask whether using demographic divisions within a population help or hinder our understanding of people’s cognition, particularly political cognition. Using a database of 1,283 interviews gathered in Mongolia in 1998 and 2003, the authors divide the sample population by the demographic categories of location, gender, education level attained, and age.

We use network analysis to note differences in network structure and textual analysis to learn how Mongolians characterize democracy as they emerge from Soviet-style socialism. We find that even though Mongolians are a rather homogeneous society, people’s concept of democracy varies by demographic category. We conclude that because experience often varies with a person’s position in society, demography correlates with people’s perception of democracy and therefore remains a valid and helpful way to study the political culture of a population.


P. L.W. Sabloff, S. Thurner, R. Hanel, H. Youn, Demographics and Democracy A Network Analysis of Mongolians’ Political Cognition, Journal of Anthropological Research 73 4 (2017) 617-646

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