Did Australia listen to Indigenous people on constitutional recognition? A big data analysis

John Parkinson*, Nuria Franco-Guillen, Sebastian de Laile

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper uses novel electronic tools to identify the degree to which Australia was listening to Indigenous peoples in a ‘national conversation’ about constitutional recognition between 2015 and late 2017. The results show that while there was a superficial overlap in themes, there were important differences of framing. Recognition remained a largely formal, elite and non-Indigenous concern, with First Nations focusing on treaties, sovereignty, listening and respect. Interaction was noticeably aggressive, but not exclusively so. Non-Indigenous people avoided discussing racism, and talked more frequently about history, framing issues in the past tense; First Nations talked about the here and now. And despite more focus on everyday racism, Indigenous peoples were consistently more positive and proud, rejecting ‘plight’ constructions
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 2021


  • Constitutional recognition
  • Indigenous politics
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • big data
  • democracy

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