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content analysis

SIMONFRITH


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Extract

Content analysis was developed as a research tool by early sociologists of the mass media, primarily for comparative purposes – its first use seems to have been in pre-1914 American studies of newspaper coverage of foreign affairs. It is a quantitative methodology which depends on two problematic assumptions: first, that one can readily distinguish verbal (or other) S igns in a T ext from the reading “context;” second, that such content can be measured “objectively” – that different readers faced with the same text would “measure” the same content. That said, media “content” may take a variety of forms, and content analysis was influentially used, for example, in F rankfurt school studies of American popular songs and magazines (see Peatman and Lowenthal, 1942–3 ). While this quantitative approach has been discredited (cultural theorists are now much more attuned to the active and subjective interpretation of pop texts) the underlying assumption about standardization has not, and content analysis is still employed in most arguments about media bias and media effects (see, for example, the work of the Glasgow University Media Group or the debate on television violence). 1990 : Violence in Television Fiction . Glasgow University Media Group 1976 : Bad News . 1942–3 : “Biographies in popular magazines.” . 1942–3 : “Radio and popular music.” . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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