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In other posts, I have provided a quick video introduction to the topic, and have discussed the ideas behind discourse theorythe main questions that students and researchers will likely ask as they set up their discourse analysis projectand the things that are worth keeping in mind when working with East Asian language sources.
In this post, I offer a handy set of tools for doing a text-based, qualitative discourse analysis. You can go through the whole list of work-steps and tick each item off in turn, which is a good way to practice these methods.
However, if you are conducting a specific research project, I would recommend adapting this toolbox to your own needs and tailoring it to fit your concerns.
At the end of this post, you will also find a few comments on the limitations of this toolbox plus a list of literature that you can turn to if you want to learn more.
But how do you make sure that you have covered all your bases and that you will later be able to make a good case for yourself and your work?
Here are ten work steps that will help you conduct a systematic and professional discourse analysis. You should ask yourself what the social and historical context is in which each of your sources was produced.
Write down what language your source is written in, what country and place it is from, who wrote it and whenand who published it and when. Also try to have a record of when and how you got your hands on your sources, and to explain where others might find copies.
Finally, find out whether your sources are responses to any major event, whether they tie into broader debates, and how they were received at the time of publication. Try to find additional information on the producer of your source material, as well as their institutional and personal background.
Who are the author and the editorial staff, what is the general political position of the paper, and what is its affiliation with other organizations? Are any of the people who are involved in the production process known for their journalistic style or their political views?
Is there any information on the production expenditures and general finances of the paper? Do you know who the general target audience of the paper is? In other cases, you will find such information in the secondary academic literature. Once you have established the institutional background, take notes on the medium and the genre you are working with.
Make sure to identify the different media types in which your source appeared, and to also be clear about the version that you yourself are analysing.
For instance, the layout of a newspaper article and its position on the page will be different in a print edition than in an online edition. The latter will also offer comments, links, multi-media content, etc.
All of these factors frame the meaning of the actual text and should be considered in an analysis.
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This may also mean that you should think about the technical quality and readability of your source, for instance by looking at paper quality or resolution for online sourcestype set, etc. Finally, ask yourself what genre your source belongs to.
Establishing this background information will later help you assess what genre-specific mechanism your source deploys or ignores to get its message across. Then add references that others can use to follow your work later: Think of how many of us tag online information like pictures, links, or articles.
Coding is simply an academic version of this tagging process. For instance, you might be analysing a presidential speech to see what globalization discourse it draws from. It makes sense to mark all statements in the speech that deal with globalization and its related themes or discourse strands.
Before you start with this process, you need to come up with your coding categories. The first step is to outline a few such categories theoretically: A thorough review of the secondary literature on your topic will likely offer inspiration.
Write down your first considerations, and also write down topics that you think might be related to these key themes. These are your starting categories. You then go over the text to see if it contains any of these themes.
Take notes on the ones that are not included, since you may have to delete these categories later. Other categories might be too broad, so try breaking them down into sub-categories.
Also, the text may include interesting themes that you did not expect to find, so jot down any such additional discourse strands.
At the end of this first review, revise your list of coding categories to reflect your findings. If you are working with several documents, repeat the process for each of them, until you have your final list of coding categories. This is what Mayring How the actual coding process works will depend on the tools you use.
You can code paper-based sources by highlighting text sections in different colours, or by jotting down specific symbols. If you are working with a computer, you can similarly highlight text sections in a word processor.Watching TV Displays at Night.
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