You are on page 1of 13

Centre for Social Studies Name: Anna Sobolczyk Course: Advanced Methods. Beyond Limits of Survey Sociology.

Lecturer: prof. Mirosława Grabowska Semester: Second teaching period (17 May 2005 - 31 June 2005) Track: Culture and Society

CONTENT ANALYSIS Methods, applications, advantages.

Content analysis is also applied for making inferences on sender of a message and on its recipient. Following part delineates fields of content analysis' application. etc. from songs. together studying impact of the message on the sender. which are outlined in all their main aspects. while quantitative method was useless. via novels.2 Abstract Content analysis is a method of a very broad scope of applications.g. to advertisements. . The paper presents two methods of realizing content analysis: quantitative and qualitative. This method can provide much more interesting results than those of quantitative method can. attitudes. Key point of the latter method is researcher's experience and interpretative abilities. The last part contains example of the analysis. dynamics of the studied attributes (e. Chapter on qualitative method presents an example. It is used for analyzing messages according to values. The former bases on rigid mathematized procedures. written and graphical messages. yet there is a risk of subjectivity. that they express. Material of the content analysis may be all oral. determined values) in a time span and their differentiation in different sources. in which qualitative method brought important findings.

in newspapers and magazines. It is not tied by the moment. when the source comes into being. (Weber 1985: 10. and which what results' (B. . photos.3 INTRODUCTION 'Content analysis is a research methodology that utilizes a set of procedures to make valid inferences from text' (Weber 1985: 9). Casey 1946: 121). its primordial application is mass media is relatively inexpensive and in case of an error. however it is increasingly more often used for analyzing not mass communications. Documents. essays.  It belongs to unobtrusive techniques. speeches.  It does not require large team of researchers . Babbie 2003: 352). and other products of mass media. as well as various kinds of books. what channels of communication. advertisements. to use both qualitative and quantitative operations.Lasswell enunciated those issues shortly in the following questions: 'Who says. content and form of a communication. not necessarily the whole project it is both relatively inexpensive and allows saving time. nor the receiver (to such techniques belong also analyses of official statistical data and historical-comparative analyses). Thus it also enables researcher to compare documents from various periods. Content analysis is a sociological method and therefore linguists do not use it. which were created many centuries ago.D. in contrast to for example interviews or experiments. written. all kinds of radio and TV transmissions. the researcher has no impact on the data that he collects. songs. publicity. There are two methods of realizing content analysis: quantitative and qualitative. in which. Lasswell. letters and e-mails. what through. to whom. namely. can by analyzed as well as those from yesterday. They comprise articles. can be oral. poetry. who the sender is and what his intentions were. what channels of communication. art and museum's exhibitions.L. H. films distributed in cinemas. Forms of communication.D. R. and so on (Babbie 2003: 342). which are the subjects of content analysis. news etc. H. Content analysis has several advantages as compared with other data-generating and analysis techniques:   It can and is even recommended. He can neither influence the sender of the communication.D. Smith. it is possible to repeat only that part of research. The scope of sociological research on mass media comprises the whole process of communication. commercial or state websites. or graphical. recipient/audience of the communication and the influence of the communication on him. paintings.

one. it means analysis of connections between symbols. which is analyzed". sentence etc. and quantitative (in Berelson's understanding it equals professional) and which should focus only on manifest content (to avoid subjectivity in interpretation). who wants to check if there is a correlation between chosen phenomenon. Moreover. As far as transparency is concerned. in can be found as "objective" only by those. while qualitative analysis is "simple identification of the elements without indicating their quantity" (Pisarek 1983: 32). quantitative analysis means "finding out quantity (often in percents) of elements of the substance. which results from mistaking different phases of research. Null hypothesis states that there is no correlation between analyzed . That technique is deemed to help understand structure of sender's associations or his politics. more important for the science (Goban-Klas 1999: 187). and he was as well strong proponent of quantitative methods. it has always been a subject of controversy between scholars inclined to quantitative methods and the researchers insisting on the qualitative. choice of category keys is always at the most intersubjective . George observes that qualitative analysis does not mean assessment analysis.4 QUANTITATIVE METHOD ASSUMPTIONS The most well known expert at the content analysis was B. He draws fine analysis between sociological quantitative and qualitative content analysis and the both types of analysis in chemistry. consequently. the latter contend that their findings can be much more revealing and. An attempt to resolve the above mentioned dilemma between reliability and depth of analysis is contingency analysis. This understanding of content analysis was in recent times often criticized. which is determining units of analysis and system of categories and the second. The former underscored precision and reliability of their results. Berelson. Referring to the postulate of that the analysis should be quantitative. In chemistry. Then for each unit of analysis (theme. Pisarek claims that the postulate is a misunderstanding. systematic (good sampling). The researcher. creates discrete categories (thematically selected groups of words or figures) for each phenomenon. which must be objective (in other words reliable). Tomasz Goban-Klas points out that complete objectivity is never possible. it is noted what categories appear in them. Berelson claimed that the content analysis is a technique. which comprises description and interpretation (Pisarek 1983: 31). A. who share the same values.).L.

1 In the unfolding creating the coding scheme I mainly base on Pisarek (1983: 72-82)). and to some extent on Weber (1985: 21-23). He stresses the necessity of comparison of the results with the original text. There are obviously different units of analysis for texts and of graphics (for songs. which are believed to be not contingent. and sampling. If the alternative hypothesis comes true the connections between categories. Accuracy and exactitude of findings in quantitative methods do not help their interpretation. Units for text analysis  letter (seldom). Yet press researchers use contingency analysis to shorter texts as well (Pisarek 1983: 75). units for text are used . coexist in a unit. or less is not a subject of analysis). . moreover it is a decision if it is more important to obtain highly objective. Choice of the units of analysis should be always determined by operational hypothesis. sampling can be simple or systematic. PROCESS OF CREATING AND APPLYING A CODING SCHEME1 Preliminary steps are constructing hypotheses. stated that the optimum is 120-210 words. Ch. stratification or cluster. According to the hypotheses. Weber emphasizes that due to the fact that 'quantitative measures are crude'. or hardly ever.5 phenomenon. who developed that technique. but more interesting ones (provided proper categories are applied). Size of a context in which the contingency is to be analyzed (the coexistence of categories) is a controversial issue. are further scrutinized (Wnuk-Lipińska 1967: 12). but not revealing findings. Osgood. which will not at all reflect the reality (Weber 1985: 71). The coding itself bases on choosing units and categories of analysis (Weber 1985: 2223). and it comes true if categories of both phenomenon either always. accepting the findings at their 'face value' may lead to conclusions. while for the latter the greater units should of more use. which were mentioned at the beginning. identifying the substantive questions and relevant theories. It means that any connections between categories are accidental. For the former smaller units are more recommended. researchers should be especially cautious.

but simultaneously one of the most difficult. Romas. depreciated jobs. because an author divides his text for paragraphs on an arbitrary basis. among others 'countries'. public opinion. column in a newspaper with own headline). Units for graphic analysis    symbol. character) .R. Holsti are of that opinion) to be one of the most useful units of analysis. 2) The country has already been developing.g. etc.also named assertion (Leites. or verbalillustrative (e. The unit is used for classifying material in categories of kind. whole graphic For all the above units computer-aided content analysis can be applied without any problems. 'countr'. It is often used for analyzing frequency of appearance and ascribed roles of the representatives of various discriminated groups (women. It is deemed to be indispensable in researches on ways of propaganda. theme . It can be either verbal (e. source.unit not preferred by proponents of quantitative method.seldom used. Afro-Americans. attitudes.  whole text or other communication . Pool) or proposition (Lasswell). values. The chief difficulty is deciding were a theme ends. provided it is homogenous. which enables identifying all words connected with country. easy for identifying and easy for categorization. sentence or paragraph. or subject.   .unit useful for analysis of style and intelligibility of texts. Berelsoni and O. because theme is not so distinctive unit as word. figure (person.easy for defining.g.). etc. For example TV news can be treated as a unit in terms of form.  figure (person. photo reportage). attitude.6  stem of a word (e. For example a sentence: "More intensive effort will contribute to further development of the country" must be divided into three themes: 1) Effort will be more intensive.)  word (The unit can be applied in contingency analysis) sentence . The unit can be applied in contingency analysis. There are complex sentences including a few themes and such a sentence must be divided according to those themes.g.  paragraph . 'countrymen' etc. 'countryside'. but in terms of subject each news must be analyzed separately. It is widely believed (among others B. character). 3) Effort influences the development (Pisarek 1983: 76). religious minorities.

For political press more adequate will be social and political attitudes. age. . premises of the attitude judgement. where the scale will be as follows. attitudes to authorities. The founding scholar of quantitative method in sociology. attitude towards the subject (positive or negative). ordinal measure and ratio measure. the agents. For some texts all the subcategories are useful. like conflict or ending. 0 emails. means of their realization. The last type is variables. serials and variable are usually called respectively as nominal measure. source of communication. The example can be number of e-mails sent by secretaries each day. Especially some of the subcategories of 'What is stated' relate rather to novels. yet usually choice of the most relevant is a better solution. intensity of emotions. efficiency from the propaganda perspective (Berelson 1952: 147-48). which bases on serials' continuum. The 'how it is stated' comprises means of communication (newspaper. researcher checks if in an advertisement there appear woman or man. which indicates degree of intensity of an attribute. Decision on choice of categories includes as well their type used for coding materials. Nowadays.). Paul Lazarsfeld. That type cannot be applied to the mentioned above interest in politics. Dichotomies consist on noting if an attribute of a given category appears in a unit of analysis. Determinant should be then type of material . Serials requires constructing a scale. conflict (source and strength). radio.7 Category key Berelson's model is based on two primary categories and numerous subcategories. 3 e-mails. characteristics of appearing persons. That type obviously cannot be applied to binary attributes like gender. where 1 stands for "not interested at all". 2 e-mails. since it is not possible to determine intervals of that interest. The categories are 'what is stated' (content criteria) and 'how it is stated' (formal criteria). 2 "interested in a small degree". serials and variables (Lazarsfeld. 3 "somehow interested". ending.sentimental magazines require categories of figures in terms of social classes. which example can be a scale of interest in politics. grammatical and syntax form. etc. the dichotomies. etc. Another type is serials. remuneration. authority. 4 "interested". expressed values/purposes. Berton 1959). when attributes are woman/man in a category gender and unit of analysis is advertisement. 5 "very interested". and so on. For example. together with his coworker. were the first who distinguished three types of scaling within categories: dichotomies. localization. The 'what is stated' includes subject. but divides it on intervals and determines the zero point. time of action.

Result of the review is raw data matrix.. N Raw data matrix may be a basis for direct inference or it can be used for contingency analysis.g. That superiority (highly questioned by partisans of quantitative method for its alleged unreliability) stems from the fact that qualitative method 1) uses not only categories. novel 1. which often appear in the text. etc. where the categories appear. Unit 1 Position 1 2 3 . 2) takes into account the context. advertisement 2. novel 3. etc. QUALITATIVE METHOD The primarily purpose of qualitative method is analysis of the sender's intentions.8 Counting Distinguishing categories precedes reviewing each unit (if there are more than one unit) of analysis and writing down in division for the unit the score for all assessed positions (e. . or advertisement 1.). 80 40% B (ordinal) 2 4 1 5 40 20% Categories C (ratio) 0 20 18 7 130 65% etc. which are not obtainable with the other method. Though its procedures are less strict than those of quantitative method are. it can provide basis for inferences. novel 2. but also those. 200 Number Percentage A (nominal) + + etc. advertisement 3.. in which the statement was constructed. which are found rarely. 3) takes into account circumstances. which has the following form (fragments from WnukLipińska 1967: 13 and from Babbie 2003: 349). yet are of great importance.

g. . had to mean antijewish politics. and it was the word of key meaning (George 1959 in Wnuk-Lipińska 1967: 21). there could be applied qualitative method of analyzing contexts of their dialogues with parents. For the research on the change of the teenagers' attitudes towards their parents over time span of e. and quantitative method of category counts. Goebbels used the word "counterterror". which. researchers would have not found that word. General comparison of quantitative and qualitative method COMPARISON OF METHODS OF CONTENT ANALYSIS Quantitative      fragmentary systematic generalizing manifest content objective      holistic selective illustrative latent content relating to reader Qualitative (Quail 1994 in Goban-Klas 1999: 188) The recommended solution for combining advantages of both methods is simply applying each of them (Babbie 2003: 347). George 'nonfrequency analysis' (WnukLipińska 1967: 20). Words can also be counted after having been classified into categories. taking into account its context and political situation at that time. thirty years.9 An example of a research in which quantitative method would be of no use is the analysis of Goebbels's speech after German defeat at Stalingrad. respect. where the categories could be trust. which focuses of contents of special importance or absence of characteristic contents is named by A. Applying quantitative method. etc. The technique. familiarity. as it had appeared only once. Categories for both methods should be the same. on the basis of teenagers' magazines. It can be for example holistic interpretation of a text in terms of moral values buttressed by word frequency counts.

the content itself and the recipient of the content (often with the influence of the content on the recipient). or impact of a communication on the recipients. 2 Where not otherwise stated. Analyzing content for inferring about recipients concerns either characteristic of the recipients. feeding homeless after an appeal on radio). The former focuses on 'propaganda tricks' generalizations. opinions of recipients or their behavior. review of a novel). McQuail underscores another issue . which is a reaction to the communication (e. Yet analysis of impact of communications focuses rather on their immediate influence. It examines documents created a reaction to a communication (e. The former approach grounds on assumption that communication reflects recipients' interest.g. Content itself is analyzed for a) differences in the same sources from the same period. objectivity).2 Inferences about the author's characteristics are made by the means of: 1) ascertaining his intentions (like in the example of analysis of Goebbels speech). 2) diagnosing author's personality (Baldwin analysis of letters of a single person). the description of application of content analysis is based on Wnuk-Lipińska 1967: 23-31) . 3) discovering propaganda action. it may be moreover a factor ushering social changes (McQuail 1969: 68).g. The differences can be relative or they may reveal accordance or nonaccordance with standards stated by researcher (e. namely their interests. The content itself is analyzed in terms of the content itself and its form.10 APPLICATION OF CONTENT ANALYSIS Content analysis is applied for making inferences about author of the content.when the communication does not reflect dominant social values and structures. which may be and often is not true.the example is the attempt of convincing viewers that after using a given washing powder their family life will be better. b) differences in a given time span.g. which can be also found in publicity . Form of content is analyzed in researches on propaganda and intelligibility of text.

that they did not accept revealing the files. i. by informal means. possible use of the information in demagogic way by some political milieus. If it is the case. 5. because the files included also names of persons who were only potential collaborates. a journalist named Wildenstein managed to obtain. positive opinions and neutral statements. and he revealed it to the public.11 EXAMPLE Primary attitude of the journalists from the weekly "Polityka" to revealing files of the Service of Security The problem concerns broader issue of verifying past of individuals from the period of Polish People's Republic. The analysis is drawn from all the articles concerning the issue directly and derived from all editions since the beginning of 2005 till half of May 2005. worsening state of health. list of the Service of Security's collaborates. most of them wanted to clear up their presence there. Unit of analysis was whole text. The following content analysis will be an attempt to infer primary attitude of the journalists from the weekly "Polityka" to revealing the so-called Wildenstein's list. However. decrease in social integration.appreciation of passivity in the times of communist regime and search for any blemishes in heroes fighting for change of the system. Three main categories were created: negative opinions. At the beginning the verification. The hypothesis was that the general attitude of the journalists was negative. 4. namely if the individual collaborated with communist authorities. ostracism. the individual is deemed by majority of Poles to deserve condemnation. mainly politicians and the verification was a cautious process. concerned only public persons.e. since on the list there were also private persons. They were: . It caused great confusion and. etc. difficulties of public clearing from the accusation (false or not). revaluation of social attitudes . distrust in society. The category of negative opinions included assertions of possible dangers resulting from revealing the files.). They were: 1. 3. based on files of the Service of Security (a kind of secret police of the communist epoch). 2. possibility of false accusations due to the way of creating data by the Service of Security (and its results in broken careers. press article. The category of positive opinions included assertions of advantages of revealing the files.

Reason of the fact that neutral statements amount to 31% of all statement can be general character of the weekly. Rebuilding trust in politicians .percentage of the negative assertions amounts to 51. postulate of acknowledging gradation of collaborations. they can be trusted.12 1. They concerned. among others. 2. since the most important files are assumed to be kept in Moscow). the following issues: lack of interest in the former Service of Security' employees. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. Babbie (2003). Badania społeczne w praktyce. The category of neutral statements included messages that were neither positive nor negative. . belief in moral improvement of collaborators and law regulations.once their past is verified. References E. namely tendency to present all events and processes in a broader social context and in a factual way. postulate of repudiation Manichean approach with sharp division for the good and bad citizens and instead promoting dialogue and compromises. The results was as follows: Positive opinions Negative opinions Neutral statements number of number of editions. Catholic Church reaction. in number of number of editions. The interesting point is significant number of the neutral statements. Intensity of their assertions was not examined due to the fact that all texts in the weekly are written in a moderate tone and softened form and distinguishing degrees of assertions which they include would be highly subjective. in subcategory which opinions from subcategory which opinions from the enumerated the enumerated subcategory appeared subcategory appeared 1 6 1 3 2 4 2 1 3 2 4 4 5 5 Total 21 4 Percentage 51% 10% 16 16 31% Results corroborate the hypothesis .journalists of "Polityka" do find release of the 'Wildenstein's list' as a negative event . They believe that it invoked more dangers than advantages. All categories and subcategories were of nominal type. Clearing dark past. limiting possibility of blackmail (only limiting.

Lasswell. Smith. E. Glencoe. Propaganda. An Introduction. Media i komunikowanie masowe. Communication and Public Opinion.D. Metody analizy treści w socjologii amerykańskiej. A. Kraków: Ośrodek Badań Prasoznawczych T. Pisarek (1983). Recent Developments in Scope and Method. Lassewell (eds. in D. Lerner and H. Pisarek (1983). Kraków: Ośrodek Badań Prasoznawczych. London: Sage. Wnuk-Lipińska (1967). Berelson (1952). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Analitive Measurement in the Social Science: Classification Typologies and Indices.13 B. Analiza zawartości prasy. R. W. Beverly Hills: Sage. [by] W.L. The Policy Sciences. D.Ph. P. B. . Goban-Klas (1999). Casey (1946). Analiza zawartości prasy. Lazarsfeld. Warszawa: Ośrodek Badania Opinii Publicznej i Studiów Programowych. Content Analysis in Communication Research. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.) (1959).D. Berton (1959). Mass Communication Theory. R.H. Weber (1985). Stanford: Stanford University Press.McQuail (1994). Basic Content Analysis. H.