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Chapter 16

Chapter 16 - research methods.docx

Course Code
SOC 2206A/B
Stacey Hallman

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Chapter 16
Content Analysis
Most content analysis of the media is likely to entail several research
questions, generally the five W’s are the basis of any news report:
o Who (does the reporting)
o What (gets reported)
o Where (does the issue get reported)
o Why (does the issue get reported)
Another common theme in content analysis is change in the coverage of an
issue over time
Content analysis can be performed on unstructured interviews, and even
qualitative cause studies of organizations
o If you were interested in gender roles you might look at:
Animated cartoon, lyrics of popular songs, visual images in
women’s and men’s magazines
What things need to be counted?
In quantitative studies, these elements are usually specified in advance in
order to guide both the selection of the media to be analyzed and the
construction of the coding schedule
Determining the frequency in which words are used
Simple counting of particular words can reveal emphasis, style of writing or
presentation, and even the overplaying of certain events
The search for pairings of keywords can be the starting point for a more in
depth analysis
Subjects and Themes
Required to code text in terms of subjects and themes
The researcher at this point, looks for the underlying meaning or latent
content as well as the obvious or manifest content
Value Positions
A further level of interpretation is likely when the researcher is seeking to
demonstrate that the writer of a particular text has taken a certain value
Another way in which content analysis can reveal value positions is through
the coding of ideologies, beliefs, and principles
Found that women were more likely than men to advertise themselves in
terms of their appearance, and men are more likely to advertise themselves
in terms of their employment
Coding is a crucial part of content analysis

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2 main elements to a content analysis coding scheme: designing a coding
schedule and creating a coding manual
content analysts are normally interested in a much larger number of
Coding Schedule
A form onto which the data are entered
The codes can then be transferred to a computer data file for analysis with a
software package like SPSS
Coding Manual
It is a set of instructions to coders that includes all possible categories for
each dimension to be coded
Provides a list of all dimensions; the different categories subsumed under
each dimension; the numbers (codes) that correspond to each category; and
guidance to coders on what should be taken into account in coding a
particular dimension.
Broader categories are preferred
Coding manual is crucial because it provides a complete listing of all
categories for each dimension to be coded, as well as guidance on how to
interpret the dimensions
Potential Pitfalls In Devising Coding Schemes
Mutually exclusive categories: there should be no overlap in the categories
supplied for each dimension. If the categories are not mutually exclusive
coders will not know how to ode an item that fits into more than one
Exhaustive: every possible dimension should have a category
Clear instruction: coders should be cleat about what factors to take into
account when assigning codes
A clear unit of analysis
To enhance the quality of a coding scheme, it is advisable to conduct a pilot
o Will help to reveal if one category of a dimension includes an
extremely large percentage of items
o When this occurs, its necessary to break it down into specifics
An important part of pre-testing is examining the consistency between
coders, (inter-coder reliability) and if time permits, intra-coder reliability.
Qualitative Content Analysis
Involves a search for underlying themes and was used in Beharrell’s study of
the reporting of AIDS in the press
The process by which the themes are extracted in a qualitative content
analysis are often left implicit, although they are usually illustrated with
quotations from the text in question
Altheide outlined an approach he called ethnographic content analysis (ECA):
o The researcher is constantly revising the themes or categories
distilled from the examination of documents
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