Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Hamburger Index

I note an intriguing unpublished paper by Mark Hutchinson of the University of Western Sydney, using the online catalogues of the Library of Congress and the British Library as a means in and of themselves of tracing evangelical concerns between 1960 and 2010. The hamburger index is borrowed from economists looking for an index of currency fluctuation, based on the price of a Big Mac. Similarly, Hutchinson points to an intriguing way of tracing attitudes of those who describe themselves as evangelicals or refer to them, thus to a degree sidestepping all the many difficulties of definition. The use of national libraries suggests one way of doing comparitive work over time and between national communities; and is an example of digital history - of work either impossible or too time-consuming without online catalogues.

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