Theory, Method, and Practice in Computer Content Analysis

By Mark D. West | Go to book overview

5

Toward a Typology and Theoretical Grounding for Computer Content Analysis

Mark D.West and Linda K.Fuller

Content analysis is the most versatile research method available for investigating any problem in which the content of communication serves as the basis of inferences.

—Ahmed, 1996

Few [computer content analytic studies examined in this research] involved a second research method or extra-media data, explicit theoretical grounding, or research questions or hypotheses.

—Riffe & Freitag, 1997


INTRODUCTION

The hypothetico-deductive method in content analysis not only encourages the process of inquiry; it also plays a critical role in justifying the results of those studies in terms of both validation and vindication. Computer content analysis has been criticized as atheoretical, however, and it seems true that many studies conducted using the method have neglected to establish a grounded theoretical justification for their efforts.

This chapter begins by discussing the nature of grounded theory, and then establishes a typology of computer content analytic studies. For each category of computer content analytic research, we suggest the specific assumptions that must be explicated in order to theoretically ground the research. We conclude by discussing the necessity for increased attention to theoretical

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