PROmotion

Sustainability (and such)

Content Analysis: Overview

As mentioned earlier, the research method of content analysis looks for patterns across collections of texts.  These can range from print, web, or TV environments; plus, you can concentrate on structural elements (styles, tones, format, icons, etc.) across texts.  Here’s a brief overview of the process as exemplified in our Summer 2016 project:

1.  Determine your focus.  Are you interested in answering general questions with your research?  Or are there specific populations, situations, or problems of interest?  For instance, some scholars are studying how media is covering the Idle No More movement in terms of gender, race, and class; in addition, others are looking at social media fails. (For Summer 2016, we are following this protocol.)

2.  Next, identify your theoretical approach.  Here’s where you review existing literature because you want to fill gaps in the body of knowledge in your subject area.  Many researchers like to think about whether they want research organized inductively or deductively; for instance, is your research problem-driven?  (For Summer 2016, you’ll have background articles from our class text so you understand issues of gender representation in the media.)

3.  Conceptualizing the project comes next.  In this step, build on the previous two steps to refine the units of data collection, key variables and concepts, plus what to study (defining units of data  and how these units would be collected). For example, our Gender Study of CSU Online Newspapers will look only at those publications with an online presence and consistent home page tabs of “Sports” and “Opinion” which were the most commonly found pages from our sampling.

4)  Refining approach and sampling unit is a description of how the research will be designed in terms of initial coding questions.  These include pattern factors such as frequency, presence, and strength.  Once we’d decided to focus on online information (analyzing only the online presence as opposed to conducting initial interviews, surveys, or textual analyses of collateral materials), we then determined which factors, exactly, would determine media factors. (Our Summer 2016 study will focus on bylines and newsmakers in texts and photos.)

5.  Coding protocols/schemes are then determined which lead to the draft codebook and codesheet.

Another example during Fall 2014:  Student groups conducted a study about sexually objectified images using a formal coding sheet created for this framework, part of a TedX talk by Dr. Caroline Heldman:

Sexual objectification: The process of representing or treating a person like a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure.

  1. Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?
  2. Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object?
  3. Does the image show a sexualized person as interchangeable?
  4. Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person that can’t consent?
  5. Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person?
  6. Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity (something that can be bought and sold)?
  7. Does the image treat a sexualized person’s body as a canvas?

Next steps:  After coding, we then test for intercoder reliability and draft results!

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