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Qualitative Methods, Discourse Analysis and Media Research Foucault, Forests, the Vancouver Sun.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative Methods, Discourse Analysis and Media Research Foucault, Forests, the Vancouver Sun."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative Methods, Discourse Analysis and Media Research Foucault, Forests, the Vancouver Sun

2 Introduction Qualitative Methodology: An Overview Foucauldian Discourse Analysis Wilderness or Working Forest: British Columbia Forest Policy Debate in the Vancouver Sun, 1991-2003 Reflexivity and Qualitative Research

3 Qualitative Methodology: An Overview What is qualitative methodology? Data that is not expressed in numeric terms. Focus on meaning and social processes. An interpretive approach. More often aligned with inductive reasoning.

4 Qualitative Methodology: An Overview Why Use Qualitative Methodology? Exploratory research Focus on how individual actors construct and interpret social life The use of non-standardized research tools can facilitate research with marginalized groups

5 Qualitative Methodology: An Overview Examples of Qualitative Methodologies Field research (ethnography) –Observer or participant observer Interview Research –Individual or focus group Unobtrusive research –Texts and other cultural artifacts

6 Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches: Sampling Quantitative design: Random sampling, or methods that approach ideal of random sampling. Large n is better: generalizability. Qualitative design: Purposive, or theoretical sampling. Lower n allows greater depth of analysis of qualitative data: validity.

7 Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches: Instrumentation Quantitative design: Standardized research instrument. Focus on reliability Qualitative design: Research process is more open. We can self-reflexively adjust research instruments as research proceeds. Focus on validity.

8 Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches: Coding Quantitative design: Standardized coding instrument. Focus on statistical relationships between variables. Statistical generalizability. Qualitative design: Coding process is more open. We can self- reflexively adjust coding instruments as research proceeds. Focus on how meaning is constructed. Generalizable social processes.

9 Discourse Analysis Discourse analysis is a qualitative approach to textual analysis. A text can be any cultural artifact. Books, newspaper articles, movies or TV shows can all be units of analysis. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis: Grounded in the theoretical & methodological framework developed by Michel Foucault.

10 Discourse Analysis Latent content –Focus on the underlying meaning of the text –Discourse Analysis Manifest Content –Focus on the visible surface content, such as words or phrases (Babbie 1995, 312) –Content Analysis

11 Foucauldian Discourse Analysis Discourse Discourse is language use relative to social, political and cultural formations – it is language reflecting social order but also language shaping social order, and shaping individuals interaction with society (Jaworski & Coupland 1999, 3).

12 Foucauldian Discourse Analysis Power Power is never localized here or there, never in anybodys hands, never appropriated as a commodity or piece of wealth. Power is employed and exercised through a net- like organization (Foucault 1980, 98). If power is properly speaking the way in which relations of forces are deployed and given concrete expression, rather than analyzing it in terms of cession, contract or alienation, or functionally in terms of its maintenance of the relations of production, should we not analyze it primarily in terms of struggle, conflict and war? (Foucault 1980, 90).

13 Foucauldian Discourse Analysis Power/knowledge Relations of power cannot themselves be established, consolidated nor implemented without the production, accumulation, circulation and functioning of a discourse. There can be no possible exercise of power without a certain economy of discourses (Foucault 1980, 93).

14 Foucauldian Discourse Analysis Archeology examines the limits and forms of the sayable within a particular social setting (Foucault 1991, 59).

15 Foucauldian Discourse Analysis Genealogy focuses on the patterns of silence which characterize the production of discourse.

16 Wilderness or Working Forest: A Summary The network of power/knowledge constructed by the Vancouver Sun limits debate over environmental policy to the hegemonic alternatives of eco-managerialism (Luke 1999) and eco-capitalism (Adkin 1998). By limiting debate to the poles of eco-capitalism and eco- managerialism, the Sun can consistently portray two sides of environmental policy debate, without allowing space for a substantive critique of the underlying political economy of the forest industry. Other discourses are left outside the realm of appropriate debate.

17 Wilderness or Working Forest: A Summary This network of power/knowledge is constructed from three major organizational standpoints: government, industry and environmentalists. The invisibility of forestry labour and B.C. First Nations voices is the largest patterned silence to emerge from my analysis. The hierarchy of credibility of news sources provides readers with a daily barometer of the knowledge-structure of society (Ericson, Baranek & Chan 1989, 3).

18 Wilderness or Working Forest: A Summary There are also cracks in the monolith (Hackett 1991). While oppositional discourse may be contained within a broadly hegemonic framework, it is important to acknowledge that the environmental movement is able to use the media as a site for posing an important, though limited, challenge to corporate power over nature.

19 Analysis was based on four data sets: BC NDP (1991- 2001) –Protected Areas Strategy –Forest Practices Code BC Liberals (2001- present) –Results-based Code –Working Forest

20 Applying Discourse Analysis to Environmental News Purposive sampling –Purposive sampling allows us to choose a case because it illustrates some feature or process in which we are interested (Silverman 2001, 250). –Total n of 84 texts, approximately 20 texts for each of the four archives.

21 Applying Discourse Analysis to Environmental News Data analysis –Coding scheme built up from data –While coding schemes are useful for helping us to move quickly through data, they also furnish a powerful conceptual grid from which it is difficult to escape (Silverman 2000, 825).

22 Applying Discourse Analysis to Environmental News Data analysis –N6 was used to create descriptive conclusions

23 Reflexive Account Walshs four dimensions of reflexivity: –Personal reflexivity –Methodological reflexivity –Interpersonal reflexivity –Contextual reflexivity

24 Personal Reflexivity Research standpoints: –The empath –The cynic –The superscientist

25 Personal Reflexivity Standpoint of critical identification with environmentalism. The researcher needs to question the nexus of power/knowledge relations within which the social sciences [and the researcher] are inscribed (Routledge 1996, 527).

26 Methodological Reflexivity Levels of inquiry in Media Analysis Ownership of Media Institutions The Production of Texts by Media Workers The Content of the Text Itself The Audience Reception of Texts

27 Methodological Reflexivity Rationale for textual analysis –Theoretical reasons Discourse & identity Discourse & hegemony –Pragmatic reasons Unobtrusive Availability of data Historical analysis

28 Methodological Reflexivity Kirby & McKenna discuss one of the limitations of discourse analysis as an unobtrusive research strategy: –As with a camera, the person doing the recording has a particular view or perspective,... the recording is a snapshot view of the world; the researcher then analyzes the particular frame or record outside of its living context. This can lead to errors of interpretation. It can also lead to observing only those experiences which record well (Kirby & McKenna 1989, 84).

29 Methodological Reflexivity Other limitations: –Adopting a disciplinary framework –Erasure of visual data –News photos provide an added aura of naturalism and realism to the news, as they are generally taken to be literal visual- transcriptions of the real world (Hall 1981, 241).

30 Methodological Reflexivity The problem of inference

31 Interpersonal Reflexivity The study of text need not be subordinated to studies of interaction,... still less do we need to seek out the meaning or authorial intent of texts. Texts can constitute a starting point for qualitative analysis in their own right (Prior 1997, 65).

32 Interpersonal Reflexivity How can we take up post-structuralisms discovery of how discourse speaks through us and beyond our intended meaning, while at the same time avoiding its solipsistic confinement to discourse? (Smith 1999, 76).

33 Interpersonal Reflexivity Whereas many content studies have revealed hegemonic meanings in news stories, detailed analyses exploring interpretations of these texts by readers or viewers remain scarce. This imbalance results in the privileging of textual properties over audience activity and, in its most extreme form, reduces audience members to passive receivers of ideologically closed texts (Carragee & Roefs 2004).

34 Methodological/Interpersonal Reflexivity: Concluding Notes Stuart Halls model of encoding & decoding (Hall 1980): Media producers encode the text with meaning The text contains a message that be read in a number of ways Audience members decode the text. The meaning is shaped by, but not limited to, the encoding done by media workers.

35 Methodological/Interpersonal Reflexivity: Concluding Notes In order to draw conclusions about the social processes that occur beyond the boundaries of the text, it is ultimately necessary to gather data from beyond the world of the textual. Media Researcher Media Ownership Textual Content Audience Reception Production of Texts By Media Workers

36 In Summary Qualitative Methodology: –focuses on social processes and the social construction of meaning; it is essentially an interpretive approach –is generally more open and fluid than quantitative approaches –is oriented towards validity and generalizability about social processes

37 In Summary Foucauldian Discourse Analysis –is a qualitative approach to textual analysis –examines how networks of social power are intertwined with the social construction of knowledge

38 In Summary Discourse analysis is a useful tool for examining how social realities about environmental policy are constructed through the mass media –Wilderness or Working Forest: British Columbia Forest Policy Debate in the Vancouver Sun, 1991-2003

39 In Summary Focusing on the textual allows us to draw conclusions about the media construction of reality and how it is intertwined with systems of power/knowledge Foucauldian discourse analysis is an important project, as long as we bear its limitations in mind

40 Qualitative Methods, Discourse Analysis and Media Research Mark C.J. Stoddart Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology

41 Qualitative Methods, Discourse Analysis and Media Research Mark C.J. Stoddart Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology

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