Presentation on theme: "Qualitative text analysis. Why do qualitative text analysis? A number of scholars say you cannot capture the meaning of a text by counting the number."— Presentation transcript:
Qualitative text analysis
Why do qualitative text analysis? A number of scholars say you cannot capture the meaning of a text by counting the number of times violence is portrayed or the categories of jobs named in a story, etc.
Why qualitative text analysis? Sometimes subtle meanings, or implied or connotative meanings, are what you want to understand.
Texts are organic wholes—not just the sum of their parts Narrative structure Beginning, middle, end Heroic quest, etc. Interactions among elements Relationships among characters Context may be crucial
Some things are important but not common Frames and framing Implicit meaning Parables, myths, metaphors
Some themes, etc. are brought to the text by the reader This view states that much of the meaning of stories, etc. is based on the knowledge the reader or viewer brings to the text Latent meanings are hard to ‘code’ for You must bring an understanding of the ideas the reader/viewer uses to decode the text to the study of its meaning
To ‘understand’ a text, you need to be educated in an appropriate theoretical approach It is not possible pick up that sort of understanding in a 3-hour training session You can’t write rules that adequately capture that sort of knowledge
Analyzing texts The researcher carries out the text analysis Cannot train coders to do it for her A wide range of theoretical perspectives are applied to texts Semiotics Psychoanalysis Film genre theory Theory of ideology (critical/cultural theory) Feminist theory
Unique analyses Because of the unique viewpoint and expertise of the researcher, the analysis and its conclusions will also be unique Someone else carrying out a textual analysis of a movie, etc. will come to a different set of conclusions
The point is not to provide the single correct analysis of a text, but to provide a thoughtful and insightful reading that helps your audience to see the text in new and valuable ways Empower media consumers to see through the veneer of the text and better understand what its meaning is Provide your readers tools to become ‘media literate’
The analysis Rather than “coding” (assigning numbers to sample units) the researcher reads deeply and tries to discern the meaning of the text as a whole or of certain significant features of the text The researcher attempts to reveal/construct the larger or more subtle/hidden meanings of the text Much of the meaning is ‘latent’ Data collection and analysis are combined
The analyst looks at the text from the viewpoint of the theory or theories he is using to evaluate it Writes the analysis according to the language and rules of the theory he is applying
Researcher subjectivity While qualitative analysis allows for insightful evaluation of texts, it also leaves open the possibility of idiosyncratic interpretations The ‘pull’ of prior expectations may bias the interpretation of texts—even among scholars dedicated to ‘objectivity’
The result The output is a description of the text(s) based in one or more theoretical traditions that informed the analysis, rather than a set of tables and graphs representing the number of times some characteristic or category is identified The goal is to derive a better understanding of the meaning of the text and/or of the impact of certain features upon its meaning
Combining methods Sometimes the most powerful analysis is one that combines quantitative (content analysis) and qualitative (textual analysis) evaluation of texts Radway
What does “Like a Prayer” mean?
Example: Ideological analysis of “Law and Order” What is the role of power in the story? Who has legitimate right to harm? What is the appropriate means of dealing with those who break the rules? What ‘kind’ of people break or enforce the rules? What is the role of individual rights?
Example: Psychological analysis of the Dark Knight