Main Difference – Content Analysis vs Discourse Analysis
Content analysis and discourse analysis are research tools that are often used in a wide range of disciplines. Although these two terms are very broad and are general terms referring to a quite diverse research approaches and techniques, we’ll attempt to examine them in a general sense. Content Analysis is a method for studying and/or retrieving meaningful information from documents. Discourse Analysis is the study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts. The main difference between content analysis and discourse analysis is that the content analysis is a quantitative analysis whereas discourse analysis is a qualitative method.
Here, we will cover,
1. What is Content Analysis? – Meaning, Features and Uses
2. What is Discourse Analysis? – Meaning, Features and Uses
3. What is the difference between Content Analysis and Discourse Analysis?
What is Content Analysis
Content analysis is used as an umbrella term for various research approaches and techniques. It can be mainly defined as a research method for studying and/or retrieving meaningful information from documents by determining the occurrence of certain words or concepts within texts or sets of texts. The concept of text here can be broadly defined as books, newspaper headlines and articles, essays, conversations, discussions, speeches, advertising, theater, historical documents, audio-visual texts, etc.
Holsti (1969) states that there are three basic uses of content analysis.
Making inferences about the antecedents of a communication, describing and making inferences about characteristics of a communication and making inferences about the effects of communication are these three basic uses.
According to Dr. Klaus Krippendorff (2004), every content analysis must address six questions:
- Which data are analysed?
- How are the data defined?
- What is the population from which the data is drawn?
- What is the context relative to which the data are analysed?
- What are the boundaries of the analysis?
- What is the target of the inferences?
What is Discourse Analysis
The term discourse analysis also has different definitions and meanings in various disciplines. It can be broadly categorized as the study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts. Discourse analysis always refers to the analysis of real life discourse or naturally occurring language; the data for discourse is taken from written texts or tape recordings.
Discourse analysis is used in various disciplines in humanities and social sciences, including linguistics, sociology, cultural studies, international relations, anthropology, social work, education, cognitive psychology, social psychology, area studies, human geography, communication studies, biblical studies, and translation studies.
Discourse analysis involves examining various dimensions of discourse such as style, syntax, tone, intonation, idioms, and gestures, analysing various genres of discourse, the relationship between discourse and context, the relationship between discourse and syntactic structure, etc.
Difference Between Content Analysis and Discourse Analysis
Content Analysis is a method for studying and/or retrieving meaningful information from documents.
Discourse Analysis is the study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts.
Content Analysis examines the content.
Discourse Analysis examines the language.
Quantitative vs Qualitative
Content Analysis is a quantitative method.
Discourse Analysis is often a qualitative method.
Holsti, Ole R. (1969). Content Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Krippendorff, Klaus (2004). Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. p. 413. ISBN 9780761915454.
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