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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Introducing the sounds of data to the study of politics: a choir of global legitimacy crises

Angé, Hans; Sommerer, Thomas; Angeler, David


This article introduces an innovative method to describe data with sounds in political science. The method, known in ecology, physics, and musicology as “sonification,” operates by linking sound signals to quantifiable observations. We us it to compose a choir of legitimacy crises in global governance from 1994 to 2014, and to negotiate a familiar divide in research on how legitimacy should be measured. Scholars predominantly prefer one of two approaches to measure legitimacy quantitatively, either looking at political trust or public contestation of political institutions. We illustrate the usefulness of sonification to subsume both positions in this divide. More generally, we argue that sonification can enhance public communication of scientific results and extract meanings from observations that go unnoticed in visual and verbal representations, in particular with relevance to describing time series data on anything from the spread of pandemics to violent conflicts and economic inequalities.

Published in

New Political Science
2020, volume: 42, number: 3, pages: 272-288

Authors' information

Angé, Hans
Stockholm University
Sommerer, Thomas
Stockholm University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

UKÄ Subject classification

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

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