A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies

By Klaus Bruhn Jensen | Go to book overview

13

The quantitative research process

Barrie Gunter
• an overview of basic concepts within quantitative research, including hypothesis testing and sampling
• reviews of survey research, quantitative content analyses and experimental studies of media, with analytical examples
• a comparison of surveys and experiments, their strengths and weaknesses
• a presentation of quantitative data analysis, including examples of statistical procedures.

INTRODUCTION

The field of media and communication research is characterised by quite a variety of different research perspectives. That fact stems from the hybrid nature of this field of empirical inquiry, in which investigative approaches have been derived from longer established academic disciplines in the social sciences.1 Anthropology, economics, geography, history, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology have all contributed theories and methodologies for studying the structure, organisation, content, uses and impact of media. While media scholars have, accordingly, debated the merits and shortcomings of different theories and methodologies within limited spheres of inquiry (Neuman 1994; Wimmer and Dominick 1994), perhaps the most significant debate within academic circles (though not the highest profile one in the public sphere) has centred on a dispute between different philosophies of social science about the research perspective that offers the most sensitive and meaningful insights into the role and influence of the media in society. A ‘positivist’ or hypothetico-deductive school of thought has been lined up against critical and interpretive perspectives.2 These different social-scientific perspectives vary in terms of the perceived objectives of research, the way social reality and human beings are conceived, the role of theory-driven empirical inquiry and the kind of evidence to which most weight is given (see Neuman 1994). Hypothetico-deductive approaches to media inquiry are concerned with the setting up, proving or disproving of hypotheses, and the eventual establishment of theoretical explanations of events or causal laws which explain relationships between individuals’ activities in, and experiences of media, and their knowledge, beliefs, opinions and behaviour. These phenomena are usually operationally defined in quantitative terms to facilitate measurement of the strengths of causal links or degrees of association between them.

It is not the purpose of this chapter to elaborate upon the distinctions between these

1 social-scientific sources of media studies - Chapter 3

2 positivism and other philosophy of science - Chapter 15

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A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Part I - History 13
  • 2 - The Humanities in Media and Communication Research 15
  • 3 - Media, Culture and Modern Times 40
  • Part II - Systematics 59
  • 4 - The Production of Media Fiction 62
  • 5 - The Production of News 78
  • 6 - The Study of International News 91
  • 7 - Discourses of Fact 98
  • 8 - Mediated Fiction 117
  • 9 - Media Effects 138
  • 10 - Media Reception 156
  • 11 - Contexts, Cultures, and Computers 171
  • 12 - History, Media and Communication 191
  • Part III - Practice 207
  • 13 - The Quantitative Research Process 209
  • 14 - The Qualitative Research Process 235
  • 15 - The Complementarity of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Media and Communication Research 254
  • 16 - The Social Origins and Uses of Media and Communication Research 273
  • References 294
  • Index 326
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