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  • Qualitative Content Analysis

    Theoretical Foundation and Basic Procedures

    by Philipp Mayring

    (Version June 2014)

  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: Research Methods Between Qualitative and Quantitative Paradigms ................................ 4

    1.1 Science War: Conflicting Paradigms .......................................................................................................... 4

    1.2 Mixed Methods as a Solution? .................................................................................................................. 6

    1.3 Common Research Criteria for Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches ................................................ 7

    1.4 Qualitative Content Analysis as Mixed Methods Approach, Following Common Research Standards ..... 8

    1.5 Basic Research Steps .................................................................................................................................. 8

    2. Overview on Approaches to Text Analysis in Social Sciences ................................................................... 14

    3. Theoretical Background for a Qualitative Content Analysis ..................................................................... 16

    3.1 Communication Science: Quantitative Content Analysis ........................................................................ 16

    3.1.1 Preliminary Phase ............................................................................................................................ 16

    3.1.2 Consolidation Phase ......................................................................................................................... 17

    3.1.3 Fine Developments and Interdisciplinary Expansion ....................................................................... 17

    3.1.4 The Present-day Situation: "Discontent" Analysis? ......................................................................... 18

    3.1.5 Basic Techniques of Quantitative Content Analyses ........................................................................ 20

    3.2 Human Sciences: Hermeneutics .............................................................................................................. 26

    3.3 Linguistics: The Structure of Language and Text ..................................................................................... 30

    3.4 Psychology of Text Processing ................................................................................................................. 33

    3.5 General Psychology: Theories of Categorization ..................................................................................... 36

    4. Basics of Qualitative Content Analysis ...................................................................................................... 38

    4.1 Basic Principles and Definition ................................................................................................................. 38

    4.4.1 Embedding of the material within the communicative context ...................................................... 38

    4.4.2 Systematic, rule-bound procedure .................................................................................................. 38

    4.4.3 Categories in the focus of analysis ................................................................................................... 39

    4.4.4 Object reference in place of formal techniques .............................................................................. 39

    4.4.5 Testing specific instruments via pilot studies .................................................................................. 40

    4.4.6 Theory-guided character of the analysis .......................................................................................... 40

    4.4.7 Integrating quantitative steps of analysis ........................................................................................ 40

    4.4.8 Quality criteria ................................................................................................................................. 41

    4.2 Materials for Qualitative Content Analysis – What Could be Analyzed? ................................................. 42

    4.3 Transcription Systems .............................................................................................................................. 44

    4.4 Content Analytical Context Model ........................................................................................................... 46

    4.5 Content Analytical Units .......................................................................................................................... 49

    4.6 A General Step-by-step Model of Qualitative Content Analysis .............................................................. 51

    5. Example..................................................................................................................................................... 53

    5.1 Presentation of the Corpus Material ....................................................................................................... 53

    5.2 Defining the Text Material ....................................................................................................................... 53

    5.2.1 Determining the Material ................................................................................................................ 53

    5.2.2 Analysis of the Circumstances of Origin ........................................................................................... 54

    5.2.3 Formal Characteristics of the Material ............................................................................................ 54

    5.2.4 Determining the Material ................................................................................................................ 55

    5.2.5 Analysis of the Circumstances of Origin ........................................................................................... 55

    5.2.6 Formal Characteristics of the Material ............................................................................................ 56

    5.2.7 Direction of Analysis ........................................................................................................................ 57

    5.2.8 Theory-oriented Differentiation of the Problem ............................................................................. 57

    5.2.9 Theoretical Differentiation of Sub-issues ......................................................................................... 57

    6. Specific Techniques of Qualitative Content Analysis ................................................................................ 61

    6.1 Basic Forms of Interpretation .................................................................................................................. 61

    6.2 Summarizing ............................................................................................................................................ 63

    6.3 Inductive Category Formation ................................................................................................................. 78

  • 6.4 Explication (Context Analysis) .................................................................................................................. 85

    6.5 Structuring – Deductive Category Assignment ........................................................................................ 93

    6.6. Mixed Procedures ......................................................................................................................... 100

    7. Quality Criteria of Content Analysis ........................................................................................................ 103

    7.1 Classical Quality Criteria ........................................................................................................................ 103

    7.2 Specific Content-analytical Quality Criteria ........................................................................................... 105

    7.3 Three Levels of Inter-coder Agreement……………………………………………………………………………………………109

    8. Computer Programs for Qualitative Content Analysis ............................................................................ 111

    9. Related text analysis approaches............................................................................................................ 118

    Appendix........................................................................................................................................................... 120

    References ........................................................................................................................................................ 131

  • 4

    1. Introduction: Research Methods Between Qualitative and Quantitative Paradigms

    This introduction criticises the methodological dichotomization of qualitative and quantitative

    research, defines Qualitative Content Analysis as a mixed methods approach (containing

    qualitative and quantitative steps of analysis) and advocates common research criteria for

    qualitative and quantitative research. Finally, a step-by-step model of the (qualitative-

    quantitative) research process is presented.

    Perhaps, no issue in socia

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