Unit of text analysis - Sociology of Mass Communications. Theory and practice

Text Analysis Unit

What we observe depends to a large extent on what we know about the world around us, and therefore we expect from it.

Michael Mulkey. Science and the sociology of knowledge

Referring to specific texts, the researcher operates the working unit of analysis. In our example, from the study of racial discrimination, there will be a character - a figure of a white worker or a dark man with a certain degree of qualification. The investigation of efficiency has as a unit of analysis a separate material, because we associate efficiency with the operational motive of the whole material. When it comes to the geography described, the unit of analysis can be a separate material. But large newspaper, television and radio materials contain (can contain) information about different settlements, different areas, etc. Hence, we must provide for the analysis of the amount of information, which will be the smallest unit of text, where a mention of the type of geographic type we are looking for might appear. First of all, it can be a word, equal to the name of the item (edge, city, area); it can be a paragraph, dedicated to the desired geographical point; it can be more lengthy text fragments, containing a conversation about the desired point.

Using the word as a unit of analysis, we calculate how many words are assigned to a particular type in the typology we have chosen, meaning that the more words are dedicated to a certain type, the more attention the communicator pays to this type. We calculate how many paragraphs are devoted to one or another type, meaning that the more paragraphs, the more attention is paid to one type or another. We have to ignore the difference in size, considering them equally, to consider that, despite the difference in size, each of them is read as if on a single breath, and from the point of view of the author of the text expresses a complete thought. Operating a fragment of the text as a unit of analysis, we must measure which fragment of the text - large or small - corresponds to a certain type of settlement. Hence, there is a need for spatial (if it is a newspaper) or temporary (if it is a question of radio or television programs) measures. You can measure these pieces in rows, in area or in minutes, in seconds. Here we go out to new ones but compared to the score corresponding to the number of attributes we fix, units of measure.

Thus, if you group all possible techniques for operating the text with different units of analysis and different units of measurement, then roughly they can be divided into two groups.

The first group. The unit of analysis is the sign of the material that characterizes it as a whole. It can be efficiency - the fixation (or non-fixation) of a temporary event milestone, which is the reason for the appearance of material in the information flow; Functionality of the material (for example, radio and television materials are traditionally divided into information, entertainment, educational, utilitarian (advertising and reference)). It is important that each material belongs to a particular group in its dominant function. The symptom should be described by a finite number of cases, or, in other words, the researcher should provide for all possible modifications of the trait so that each material is enlisted to a particular modification. There are some materials in which it is meaningless to search for an operative occasion, for example, artistic ones. Hence, the researcher provides the graph "materials not classified by this attribute". All the analyzed materials break up into as many groups as the modifications of the trait are envisaged by the researcher. Counting the number of materials in each group belonging to one modification occurs in two ways:

- the number of these materials is counted, expressed by a natural number of numbers (from one to "...);"

- the sum of the areas (in the newspaper) or the airtime (on radio and television) of the materials per each group is calculated.

The second group. The unit of analysis is a separate fragment of the text: a word, a character, a judgment, a paragraph or a non-permanently fixed line of text that coincides with a certain topic. In all cases, it is a fairly limited set of words, characters, judgments that are of interest to the researcher.

Their appearance in the text is recorded in the following ways:

- counting the number of words, characters, judgments, topics, etc. mentioned in the text, which amounts to such variants (we will analyze these variants for the simplest case, when the unit of analysis is a word): the total number of mentions of each word is counted; counts the number of sentences, paragraphs that can contain the words you are looking for; the number of materials in which at least one search word is encountered is counted;

- the calculation of the sum of the areas (in the newspaper) or the airtime (on the radio and television) of segments of the text containing the desired word: here the finer, decorated units of the square (paragraph, page of the microphone folder with radio and television materials) in a word, the sum of which is calculated; Summarize the area of ​​materials, if they contain at least one search word.

Let's discuss the concept of the context unit by counting of words corresponding to the categorical grid of the researcher. The word lives within the sentence; a more complex spatial unit consisting of several sentences, if they all provide a complete judgment; paragraph; and, finally, the material as a whole. If the research object is a small text material, it makes sense to count all the number of mentions of the word. But sometimes at large volumes researchers establish units of context, and then the use of at least one desired word within the paragraph is considered equivalent to its repeated use in the same paragraph. Moreover, the mention of a word in a material is sometimes fixed as equivalent to its repeated use within the same material. Thus, in the study of the policy language by G.Lasswell's school, when the coders operated on a set of analyzed texts in 20 000 editorial articles and 416 characters, the absence or presence of which they fixed in the text, the encoding tactics consisted in the fact that it was enough to meet one mention, how many in fact they were in the text, because, as explained in the manual, variations in the number of appearances could depend on the individual style of the author.

Before deciding which counting strategy to follow, a trial count of options is carried out - does not the conclusions distort the choice of this or that strategy.

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