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’Basic Content Analysis’ by Robert Philip Weber, Book Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 331

Book Review

This concise work from one of the world’s great sociologists studies the way in which content analysis is usually carried out. He defines ‘content analysis’ as “research method that uses a set of procedures to make valid inferences from text.” (page 9). This method is used in a range of contexts, including the detection of propaganda, the reflection of cultural groups or situations and for describing trends in communication content, as examples.

Weber goes on to illustrate his ideas with several other studies which have been carried out using content analysis as a focus, including Walker (1975)’s analysis of soul and rhythm and blues lyrics. Interestingly, in his introduction, he also states that this monograph is intended to be “illustrative and didactic, rather than dogmatic.” Like many who work in the field of social sciences, he insists that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to carry out content analysis. It is very much up to investigators to tailor methods according to their circumstances and study.

The work has got some dated features, with references to computer technology in the 1990s now looking a little outdated. Many of the technological concerns dealt with by Weber in this text have now been resolved by the rapid advancement of digital technology. There are still relevant sections which are useful for contemporary researchers though.

Many of the chapters are well-discussed and excellently referenced though. In particular, some references to studies such as Namenwirth’s (1973)’s look at party platforms in presidential campaigns. In analysing situation such as this, it also becomes clear that Weber thinks that using computers for content analysis can be problematic, as computers cannot easily identify idioms or the context of certain words and phrases.

Overall, this is a very handy work for students, framing many useful ideas and concepts. This is a guide book rather than a set of instructions, and it includes many useful signposts along the way of research, rather than showing a clearly defined route to successful research. A very useful text.

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