Towards a Corpus Sociology

This initiative started in 2008 with a session stream at the CADAAD conference in Herfordshire (UK) which aimed to bring together corpus linguistics with risk studies. In the subsequent years the research agenda developed. Even though mainly applied in the context of risk studies, the initiative aims to show how corpus linguistic methods can be utilized for examining sociological research questions. They are particularly useful for examining diachronic social change since with the increasing digitization of newspaper archives detailed examination of historical social changes becomes possible.


  • Zinn, J. O. 2020: The UK at risk. A corpus approach to social change 1785-2009. (Critical Studies in Risk and Uncertainty), Palgrave Macmillan. (
  • Zinn, J. O. 2019: Utilising corpus linguistic tools for analysing social change in risk. In: Olofsson, A. and Zinn, J. O. (eds.): Researching Risk and Uncertainty – Methodologies, Methods and Research Strategies. Palgrave Macmillan, 337-366.
  • Zinn, J.O. 2018 The Proliferation of ‘at risk’ in The Times: A Corpus Approach to Historical Social Change, 1785-2009. Historical Social Research 43(2), 313-364.
  • Zinn, J.O. and McDonald, D. 2018: Risk in the New York Times (1987-2014) – A corpus-based exploration of sociological theories. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Zinn, J. O. and McDonald, D. 2016: Changing Discourses of Risk and Health Risk: A Corpus Analysis of the Usage of Risk Language in the New York Times. In: Chamberlain, M. (ed.): Medicine, Risk, Discourse and Power, London, New York: Routledge, 207-240.
  • Zinn, J.O. 2010: Risk as Discourse: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. CADAAD journal 4(2), 106-24.]

Conference presentations:

  • Zinn, JO: Plenary talk: Contested Knowledge – Contested Meaning: The Mutual Constitution of Data and Risk at the international conference Data in Discourse Analysis at the TU Darmstadt 18th to 20th Feb 2020.
  • Zinn, JO & Müller, M: „Discourse-semantic differences in national climate change debates: UK and Germany“. European Sociological Association Conference 29 August to 1 Sep 2017 – Athens.
  • Zinn, JO Changing Discourse-Semantics of Risk – A historical analysis of US newspapers after World War II utilizing corpus linguistics research instruments. 9th International Corpus Linguistics Conference 2017, Birmingham, UK, 24-28 Jul 2017.
  • Zinn, JO: At the Workshop – Methods, Methodologies and Research Strategies of Risk Research which the Fellow organized in collaboration at Mid-Sweden University, Östersund, 30 Nov–1 Dec 2016.
  • Using Corpus Linguistics for Sociological Research: Discourse-Semantic Changes of “Risk” in the New York Times, 1987-2014. Session: Researching Risk. Methodologies and Methods, Third ISA Forum of Sociology, Vienna, Austria, 10-14 Jul 2016.
  • Zinn, JO & McDonald, D: Changing Discourse-Semantics of Risk. A historical analysis of US newspapers after World War Two utilizing corpus linguistics research instruments. At the international Conference Corpora and Discourse, University of Siena, Pontignano Conference Centre, Italy, 30 Jun-3 Jul 2016.
  • Zinn, JO & McDonald: Discourse-semantics of risk in The New York Times, 1963-2014: a corpus linguistic approach. 42nd International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC), Aachen, Germany, 27-31 July 2015.
  • Zinn, JO: Changing Discourses of Risk: a corpus analysis of the usage of risk language in The New York Times, Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), University of Lancaster, UK, 18 Jun 2015.
  • Zinn, JO: Risk as Discourse. Presentation in the session stream Risk as Discourse at the 2nd International Conference Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines, CADAAD’08, at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, 10-12 Jul 2008.


University of Melbourne: Associate Professor Jens O. Zinn (

TU Darmstadt: Professor Marcus Müller (link: https://www.linglit.tu-

University of Newcastle: Dr Julia Cook (


Jens O Zinn, University of Melbourne, School of Social and Political Sciences,