Content Analysis

The necessity to analyze the text systematically goes beyond linguistics into political science. The value of content taken from mass media is often bigger than it seems with all the implications hidden in it. The importance of studying content arose during Nazi propaganda in World War II, and Communist ideologists also manipulated their people through mass communications.

Content analysis helps to discover everything that is beyond text, i.e. the leader’s personality or their intention. Scholars also study the impact of context through such analysis. Not only written text but also transcripts of oral communication or body language fall under content analysis. Importantly, content analysis does not alter the behavior of the subject. In fact, scholars do not require a direct communication with speakers to analyze their messages. The procedure of content analysis is relatively easy and cheap. A single investigator who has an access to texts and recorded communication can perform the analysis for an affordable payment.

Under content analysis, we understand quantitative assessment of texts performed in a systematic manner. Qualitative analysis lacks an explicit coding scheme and it cannot detect the intention of a speaker in full. Systematic nature makes quantitative analysis less dependent on the ability of the investigator to focus on the evidence they see decoding the text.

During the analysis, investigators detect manifest and latent content. Manifest is the surface meaning of the text that disguises the deeper symbolic meaning of the latent content. The manifest content is easier to code with clear and systematic coding rules. The underlying latent content is the expertise of a qualitative discourse analysis that is less transparent.

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