Text and audience analysis capabilities
All of the above examples of the application of content analysis unites one thing - with the help of this method researchers went to the information producer, his characteristics. In other words, the method demonstrated its obvious possibilities by analyzing the text - the product of the activity of a person, a group of people or an institution - in a certain way characterize and qualify the author himself (a particular person, a group of people, the editorial staff, etc.). At the same time, the text gave us an idea of the source, from which certain stereotypes, preferential behavior patterns, knowledge of political personalities, different sides of the social hostel, etc. can penetrate into the consciousness of the masses.
No wonder all the content exchanged between the parties in the process of transferring information to each other is considered the core of such an exchange. It in potency contains both the characteristics of the person to whom the message is directed, and the characteristics of the wider background (psychological, social) on which this exchange takes place.
On the example of QMS, it can be argued that since the most obvious function of their function is the function of informing about the world around us, then, of course, we can get an idea of this world by the content of these facilities. The audience has always been presented to researchers - and more often to practitioners - as an object of influence, an object of influence. How to influence it, how to study it, how to discover the connection between what is in the content of the QMS and in the sphere of consciousness of the masses? The message promises a certain effect on the audience. Which is the question of questions, and he is interested in journalists, researchers, and equally non-professionals. Will the message attract attention? Will it be correctly perceived - how should the communicator? Will it be simply understood? Will it leave any trace in the information receiver? Will it force the audience to act? All these are global issues, which confront both the creators and the researchers of the texts. Factors influencing the process of communication should be sought precisely in the content. This list can be continued to find a place in it and those issues that interest us in this section. What kind of sympathy, mood, morality can we expect from the population of a certain country, if we have information about the information that is being thrown out daily on this country?
The content analyst, asking the last question, will reformulate it. After all, the task of analysis is just to build on the flow of information that is directed at the population of the country. Then the question will sound different: what of what is contained in the information, can we predict in the audience? In cases where QMS is the only source of information about a certain human activity, we can talk about a directly proportional relationship between the share of attention of the QMS to this activity and the level of awareness of the audience about it. It is no accident that researchers of the content of newspapers, radio and television are so eager to turn to political propaganda.
About the fact that the Volga flows into the Caspian Sea, people often find out at school. This fact becomes part of the knowledge that a person has. The operational information of political communication deals with a person as a layman, most of this information is not given to a person in his immediate life experience. A person is open to the impact of this information - both for its quantity and (if somewhat coarsening the process of information impact on a person) its quality. In addition to the fact that Americans know little about us (as we do about them), they also have certain stereotypes about us (as we do about them), stereotypes that from decade to decade were present in American and Soviet mass media. Researcher Yu. Woodward in the first third of the XX century. discovered this mechanism by conducting a content analysis of foreign news. The content of the press enables us to judge with a high degree of probability the public opinion that is formed by one or another information source. The press has great opportunities to model the world - by direct distortions or silences, the concentration of some facts and the ignoring of others.
Here is another example of research, when the author consciously focused his conclusions on the potential state of the audience. It is about the work of M. Janowitz "Press of the Industrial City".
This is a sociological study of Chicago's city newspaper, the social role that it plays in a relatively closed community. The study covers the most important links in the functioning of the newspaper: the social situation, the publisher, the audience, the content of the newspaper. The author draws the main conclusions on the basis of an analysis of the content: such a newspaper performs an integrating role for its readers in the face of disconnected trends in modern society; the newspaper emphasizes and supports local traditions; the newspaper brings together the extreme points of the social vertical of the local community; the local newspaper gives the impression of a non-profit that feeds the interests and expectations of its readers. Janowitz believed that the newspaper as an agent of the local community is the last resort for the individual before the standardization of centralized QMS.
Some researchers spread their conclusions about the audience or the communicator to a broader social reality, i.e. go beyond the actual communicative situation. Thus, the following example is known for the history of content analysis. The English explorer A. George, analyzing during the Second World War the content of Nazi propaganda, in particular the statements of the party leaders of the Third Reich, drew attention to the fact that these statements showed a sharply increased number of optimistic statements about the future course of the war. George, who at that time had information drawn from other sources (reviews and forecasts of experts, military specialists), i.e. information that was extralinguistic, was not contained on the newspaper page, linked these data with their own and predicted the bombing of the territory of England by the FAU-2 missiles. True, later historians of the content analysis refused this research in the right to be called a pure content-analytical study. They carried out this research on a specific agency, engaged in collecting information from a variety of sources. Nevertheless, it is necessary to pay tribute to the opportunities that the content analysis demonstrated here: conclusions about a broader generality based on research on purely textual products.
Indeed, sometimes it is useful to refer to sources that have been circulating in one or another social community in order to characterize it documentarily. Today we quite abstractly perceive such characteristics of the Soviet system as its orientation to the state regulation of private life, the priority of state interests in this life, etc. But here are some evidence of a sociological nature. Sociologists of the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University in 1976 analyzed the newspaper of one of the districts of the Ryazan region. We point out only one fragment of this study: "Personality appears in 79% of all materials, but in 76% of the cases of these 79% we are talking about a person in production, about the performance of production tasks, ie, about the person as the subject of productive activity. It acts as the carrier of a single function - production. In a number of cases, a person appears in the material as a means of achieving economic success. "
Monitoring of the information television program "Time" (1984-1987) showed that all cases of appearing on the screen of life of a Soviet man can be reduced to material-material spheres (56%): management activities (32%), labor activities related to production material values (20%) and acquisition of labor skills (4%); and to social and political (44%): speeches at meetings (38%), including television appearances, participation in the Patriotic War (4%), deputy activity (2%). There is not much that can be added to this information. It can act as a vivid characteristic of society.
We gave several examples of what the objectives of the text researcher can be: to come out with the analysis of these texts on the communicator (or in some cases the publisher behind the communicator), its characteristics, ideas about its functions or the audience (in a number cases on a wider social reality), on the stereotypes of the consciousness of the masses, preferential behavior patterns, awareness. These goals practically coincide with those that the researcher of the basic structural components of the communicative situation sets himself: by means of an analysis of what is said , to find out who is speaking and to whom it says .
But another choice of goals is possible, depending on the nature of the research - fundamental or applied, strategic or tactical. We choose one meaning in this opposition: on one side there remain the tasks of analyzing the content of the activity of any source, which can be designated as learning, to know, to ascertain, and on the other, to study, to modify, to correct.
The boundaries between these tasks are conditional, mobile, but talking about them is extremely important. Indeed, in the course of a retrospective review of the historical practice of content analysis in the sociology of the QMS, we tried to enumerate the possibilities that this method has for sociological study of the functioning of the press. We have shown that this is a real tool with which you can enrich our knowledge about the society, that is, to solve sociological problems proper.
The information on the application of this method tells us also that we can compare sources, use data to typify sources for contribution to press history, press theory. We have shown that this method is useful for the real activity of a specific information body: the identification of trends helps to form an idea of the activities of the editorial team. Comprehension of the QMS functioning process is useful for a specialist in this field of activity. Sometimes research becomes applied when, for example, developers of advertising campaigns are interested in the role of the customer, they are interested in the characteristics of advertising flows to determine their content niche, or the developers of advertising campaigns for political leaders in the situation of pre-election races. In all these cases, the instrument itself, the study itself as a scientific procedure for obtaining new knowledge acquires special importance. Analyzing the texts passing through the QMS channels, we consider them through the prism of a theory that studies the functioning of this social institution in society, which should reflect all the structural components of this system and all the dependencies and links existing between the individual components and manifest themselves during the QMS implementation process its activities.
The history of content analysis gave, for example, the opportunity for the researcher of mass communications J. Gerbner, who for a long time worked with this technique, to reduce all the numerous techniques to the answers to the following questions: what in messages is (what it is suggested to the public opinion how much and with what frequency) that from this it is important for the communicator (in what context is it served and in what order of importance) that from this it appears to the communicator good or bad, right or wrong (in what light is served, with which point of view, what arguments are supplied), what is correlated with what and how (in what logical and causal structure exists).
We have already said that content analysis is also used for the study of other types of communication, in particular interpersonal. Methodological and methodological principles remain the same. An analyst of interpersonal communication in developing tools should take into account the theory of this type of communication as much as possible, as well as the sociological and psychological theory of personality. In connection with the last example, one can not fail to mention the methods of operating information obtained from a patient communicating with a doctor, which are used in the method of psychoanalysis of Freud, although here the importance of appearance in the text of an extraordinary, rare, falling out of the common information field prevails. Psychoanalysis had a great influence on social, psychological, cultural studies of the 20th century, and its methodology was certainly in the zone of attention of the first content analysts. In the general stream of content analysis there have been attempts of the so-called structural analysis of texts (O. Bürzhelen), which just worked in the paradigm place and exclusivity of this or that characteristic.
The appearance of radio and television as an object of analysis has introduced into the theory of content analysis the need to solve new problems. So, if we return to the problems of fixing valuation categories, which we are discussing, we saw that the set of facts that the author of the message operates on the aggregate evaluation that the researcher deduces from the text (and most importantly, it is also output by the addressee of the message) . And the facts are by no means no price. This is especially evident in television messages (in the newspaper it is an easier problem to solve) - the presence of a video sequence introduces additional polysemy, the variability of the interpretation. It would seem, well, what's so special about this - a video camera showed a deputy in the State Duma, picking at the nose. However, it is no coincidence that the first United States State Duma has repeatedly adopted special resolutions on the location of television journalists, up to their removal to balcony seats in the conference room. This problem has led to the fact that content-analytical studies specifically provide for the possibility of making a decision by comparing the opinions of two, and sometimes even more, coders. The situation is by no means unique, and in principle it is no different from the decision-making mechanism, say, in judging in figure skating.
In this regard, it should be noted the contribution of the ideas of the American psychologist C. Osgood to the methodology of the analysis of texts. Osgood proposed a technique for evaluating claims, the main purpose of which is a statistical measurement of the intensity of the communicator's relation to certain objects in the text, since this ratio is fixed linguistically. It is necessary that the relation to an object, fixed in the text, be interpreted by the users of the language (in the case of concrete researches - encoders) in the semantic field of different, diametrically opposite definitions, qualitative adjectives.
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