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AL AKHAWAYN UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
COMMUNICATIONS STUDIES
10 Theories and Methods for Media Analysis
Dr. Mohammed Ibahrine
The Research Process
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The research process begins by asking research
questions
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Research questions are drawn from the systematic study
of an area of communication interest
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A systematic study of the literature is necessary
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Literature review
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The Research Process
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Research should be undergo the process of management
style
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Research is important at a number of levels
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One is to try to understand complex events, behavior and
issues, especially those which involve the interaction of
mass media
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The Research Process
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We rely on media for
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knowledge of current events
Preparation for education
Entertainment
And so on
We rely on the media to help us resolve political issues
through public debate so that we do not have to resolve
them by fighting
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The Research Process
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The question-asking process in research is more
complex, than simply generating the research question or
questions guiding a particular study
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Communication scholars ask questions in each step of
the research process
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The Research Process
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An early stage in the research process is concerned with
defining the variable being studied
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This stages concerned with asking questions of
definition that establish the phenomenon under study
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The Research Process
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Then focus on the relationships that
communication variables have with the
phenomenon under study
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These are questions of variables relations,
in answering them we seek to establish two
or more variables are related to each other
in observable way, and, if so, how
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Theories of Media Analysis
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1. Gate keeping theory/History and Orientation
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Kurt Lewin was apparently the first one to use the term
"gatekeeping," which he used to describe a wife or mother as
the person who decides which foods end up on the family's
dinner table (Lewin, 1947)
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The gatekeeper is the person who decides what shall pass
through each gate section, of which, in any process, there are
several
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Theories of Media Analysis
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Although he applied it originally to the food chain
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He then added that the gating process can include a news
item winding through communication channels in a group
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This is the point from which most gatekeeper studies in
communication are launched
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Theories of Media Analysis
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1. Gate keeping theory
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White (1961) was the person who seized upon Lewin's comments
and turned it solidly toward journalism in 1950
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In the 1970s McCombs and Shaw took a different direction when
they looked at the effects of gatekeepers' decisions
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They found the audience learns how much importance to attach to a
news item from the emphasis the media place on it
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McCombs and Shaw pointed out that the gatekeeping concept is
related to the newer concept, agenda-setting. (McCombs et al, 1976)
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Priming
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History and Orientation
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Much attention in agenda-setting research, in the 80’s,
was focused on the concept of priming
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This concept was derived from the cognitive psychological
concept of priming
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Priming
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Core Assumptions and Statements
 Priming refers to enhancing the effects of the
media by offering the audience a prior context –
a context that will be used to interpret
subsequent communication
 The media serve to provide the audience with
standards and frames of reference
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Priming
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Core Assumptions and Statements
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Agenda-setting refers mainly to the importance of an issue
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Priming tells us whether something is good or bad
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Whether it is communicated effectively, etc
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The media have primed the audience about what a news
program looks like, what a credible person looks like, etc.
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Framing
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Frames are cognitive shortcuts that people use to
help make sense of complex information
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Frames help us to interpret the world around us
and represent that world to others
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They help us organize complex phenomena into
coherent, understandable categories
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Framing
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When we label a phenomenon, we give meaning to
some aspects of what is observed, while
discounting other aspects because they appear
irrelevant or counter-intuitive
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Thus, frames provide meaning through selective
simplification, by filtering people's perceptions and
providing them with a field of vision for a problem
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Framing
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In the English language, the word "frame" can be
used both as
a verb (to frame) or
as a noun (a frame)
As a noun, frame denotes the boundary within
which the whole picture is displayed (similar to a
frame placed around a picture or painting)
and is used as a tool for interpreting and
understanding the perceptions and underlying
objectives of the various actors in the conflict
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Framing
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As a verb, framing refers to the creation of frames,
either from a simple reading of the situation or
through a deliberative, analytic, or strategic
process.
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Framing
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The concept of frames has been developed as a tool for
analysis in various fields
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Psychology
Sociology
Business management
Artificial intelligence
Decision-making
Negotiation
Environmental conflict management
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Content Analysis
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Content analysis is a systematic method used to turn items
(mainly texts) into content categories
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This method (more usually intended to inform quantitative
research) follows explicit rules of coding, and enables large
quantities of data to be categorized with relative ease
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Content analysis offers a quick, broad overview of data sets
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Can be used to support (and be corroborated by) other more
detailed methods of textual analysis
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Content Analysis
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Bernad Berelson wrote the most widely cited definition
of content analysis
» “content analysis is a research technique
for the objective, systematic and
quantitative description of the manifest
content of communication “ (1952: 18)
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Content Analysis
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Objectivity is an essential requirement of science, and
therefore of content analysis
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Content analysis should be systematic
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Failure to be systematic would amount to bias
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Quantitative: Content analysis is a Quantitative method
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It converts text to numbers
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Content Analysis
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Bernard Berelson wrote the most widely cited definition of content
analysis
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Descriptive: Berelson’s definition says that content analysis
describes the content of communication
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The description of course is quantitative (e.g., “there are 20 of these
and 25 of those,” and all of them characterize s the communication
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Berelson’s definition also suggest that what is counted in text should
be manifest (i.e., not a matter of faith)
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The word manifest means apparent
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Content Analysis
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The procedures of content analysis
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1. Select a topic
2. Decide sample or census
3. Define concepts or units to be counted
4. Construct categories
5. Create coding form
6. Train coders
7. Collect data
8. Measure intercoder reliability
9. Analyze data
10 Repot result
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Content Analysis
•
Content analysis is a systematic method used to turn items (mainly
texts) into content categories
•
This method (more usually intended to inform quantitative research)
follows explicit rules of coding
•
Enables large quantities of data to be categorized with relative ease
•
Content analysis offers a quick, broad overview of data sets, and as
such can be used to support (and be corroborated by) other more
detailed methods of textual analysis
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1. Content Analysis
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Qualitative content analysis merely meant all analytical approaches to
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Textual
Audial
Video
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Contents, which did not rely on statistical techniques:
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Contemporary Discourse Analysis, and other more qualitative methods
would qualify as "qualitative content analysis" from this point of view
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Qualitative Content Analysis mainly means the interpretive coding of data
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The resulting codes can then, of course, be analyzed in quantitative fashion
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References: Content Analysis
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Krippendorff, Klaus. 2004. Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its
Methodology. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
 The currently most frequently used textbook for Content
Analysis
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Weber, Robert Philip. 1990. Basic Content Analysis. 2nd ed.,
Newbury Park, CA: Sage 1990
 Short overview of methodologies from the Sage green
methods series. Should be read in conjunction with a more
comprehensive textbook such as Krippendorff's.
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Berelson, Bernard. 1952. Content Analysis in Communication
Research. Glencoe, IL: Free Press
 The classical formulation of Content Analysis, which paved
the road for the quantitative interpretation of content analysis
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Discourse Analysis
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What is Discourse Analysis (DA)?
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It can be defined as a
» “set of methods and theories for
investigating language in use and
language in social contexts” (Wetherell
et al. 2001)
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Discourse Analysis
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It is a term for a broad area of language study,
containing a diversity of approaches with different
epistemological roots, and very different
methodologies
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Approaches include discursive psychology;
conversation analysis; critical discourse analysis
and critical linguistics; and sociolinguistics
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Discourse Analysis
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DA focuses on
 The categorizing
 Performative
 Rhetorical features
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of texts and talk (audio + Video)
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Discourse Analysis
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Media text (discourse) is not merely about actions,
events and situations
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It is also a potent and constitutive part of those
actions, events and situations (power)
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Textual context is important for all methods of DA in
collecting and analyzing data
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Discourse Analysis
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Roger Fowler describes Critical Linguistics as an
“enquiry into the relations between
 Signs
 Meanings
 Social and historical conditions
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which govern the semiotic structure of discourse”
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Discourse Analysis
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DA is concerned with 'understanding the nature of
power and dominance' and how 'discourse
contributes to their production‘
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With the text 'not the sentence (or the word, or the
sound)' important as 'the basic unit' of analysis
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Suitable data for analysis, examining how language
legitimates social control, include documents,
textbooks, media texts and media broadcasts
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Conversation Analysis
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Conversation Analysis (CA) with its roots in
ethnomethodology, broadly, examines the methods
people use to make sense of their everyday social world
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Unlike ethnomethodology, CA examines 'the minutiae of
naturally occurring conversations represented in
verbatim transcript'
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Looking at accounts in context, and in terms of
sequential organization, in order to identify systematic
properties in talk.
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Conversation Analysis
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All conversations, from formal and informal
settings, provide data for studies in CA, including
 Institutional talk
 The media
 Identity construction
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Sociolinguistics
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Traditional approaches, for example, treat language
as a set of precise rules which must be adhered to
in order to facilitate efficient communication
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This perspective, which builds on existing
assumptions about language
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Sociolinguistics
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It focuses on the structure of language units
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It conventionally involves using invented sentences
to illustrate how these rules work
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A method which tends to be disconnected from
ordinary talk and social context
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Frame Analysis
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Frame analysis looks for key themes within a text
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Shows how themes shape our understanding of
events
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In studies of the media, frame analysis shows how
aspects of the language and structure of news
items emphasize certain aspects (and omit others)
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