Society and Culture

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Society & Culture Association

Beginning Teachers Day

Methodology
workshops
Content Analysis

Jodi Arrow, North Sydney Girls’ High School

State Library of NSW
25 February, 2011

What is Content Analysis?







NOT secondary research – a common misconception. Content analysis is a form of primary research.
“A study and interpretation of written and visual material, for examples, magazines, television advertisements, photographs.” (BOS Syllabus)
An ANALYSIS of the content, not a summary.
Generally a quantitative methodology, when done by students (certainly this is where they should start as it is easier to understand)
o Eg, counting column inches devoted to particular issues in a newspaper or magazine. A little bit like ‘interviewing’ a form of media – interviewing a newspaper to find out what message it’s sending.

Where does it appear in the Syllabus?
Preliminary Course




The Social and Cultural World – a ‘learn about’
Personal and Social Identity – ‘learn to’s’: “use content analysis to examine the ways in which television portrays adolescent experiences.”
Intercultural Communication: ‘learn to’s’: “apply content analysis to Australian media representation of the selected country”

HSC Course












Social and Cultural Continuity and Change
An examinable methodology. It should be noted that as the exam now has multiple choice, it is even more important that the students know each of the methodologies and their application very well.
The PIP
Commonly MIS-used, but often good PIPs will use content analysis very effectively, including a number of recent prize-winners. (See ‘Torture-tainment’ from 2008 – content analysis used to draw conclusions about the level and extent of ultra-violence in films from the 1960s and 2000s.) Popular Culture:

Students learn to: utilise social and cultural research methodologies by: using content analysis to examine various media relating to popular culture
Belief Systems:
Students learn to: utilise social and cultural research methodologies by: using content analysis to examine the literature, art, music or other appropriate expressions of the belief system. Equality and Difference:

Students learn to: utilise social and cultural research methodologies by: using content analysis to examine media coverage of equality and difference.
Work and Leisure:
Students learn to: utilise social and cultural research methodologies by: using content analysis to examine media coverage of work and leisure.

It is important to note that the ‘Students learn to’ statements in each Depth Study can be used in the creation of examination questions, and essay questions have drawn from these in the past – ie, they must not be ‘skipped over’ in our teaching and learning programs. For example, in the 2002 HSC exam, each Depth Study included an essay question which asked students to explicitly refer to the research methods used in their focus study.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Content Analysis as a
Methodology
Strengths
Allows us to interpret the themes and messages
contained in large volumes of text or other forms of
media
Can be very useful for discovering the focus of social
attention or public opinion, particularly when
conducted on popular forms of media (for example,
if a student discovers the most popular newspaper
read by the target demographic through a
questionnaire, they could then conduct content
analysis on articles of interest in that publication to
determine what may be driving opinion within that
group).
Allows us to make inferences that can be
corroborated by other forms of data collection –
interviews, questionnaires, etc.
A valuable tool to teach students social and cultural
literacy – by showing them that different publications
will represent the same issue in different ways
through their use of language, imagery, etc.
Can allow for both quantitative and qualitative forms
of data collection...
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