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How content analysis may complement and extend the insights of discourse analysis

Date Released: Wed, 16 March 2016 12:35 +0200

Although discourse analysis is a well-established qualitative research methodology, little attention has been paid to how discourse analysis may be enhanced through careful supplementation with the quantification allowed in content analysis. In this article, we report on a research study that involved the use of both Foucauldian discourse analysis (FDA) and directed content analysis based on social constructionist theory and our qualitative research findings. The research focused on the discourses deployed, and the ways in which women were discursively positioned, in relation to abortion in 300 newspaper articles, published in 25 national and regional South African newspapers over 28 years, from 1978 to 2005. While the FDA was able to illuminate the constitutive network of power relations constructing women as subjects of a particular kind, questions emerged that were beyond the scope
of the FDA. These questions concerned understanding the relative weightings of various discourses and tracing historical changes in the deployment of these discourses. In this article, we show how the decision to combine FDA and content analysis affected our sampling methodology. Using specific examples, we illustrate the contribution of the FDA to the study. Then, we indicate how subject positioning formed the link between the FDA and the content analysis. Drawing on the same examples, we demonstrate how the content analysis supplemented the FDA through tracking changes over time and providing empirical evidence of the extent to which subject positionings were deployed.

You can access the full article on the Sage Journals web page

Source:Tracey Feltham-King and Catriona Macleod