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Content Analysis

  Content analysis is the empirical study of communication through the systematic analysis of words, texts and symbols. With its strict classificatory form and emphasis upon empirical analysis, content analysis can be interpreted as a behaviourist adaptation of the earlier practice of hermeneutics, the interpretation of underlying meaning. As a tool in political science, content analysis was first applied by Harold Laswell and others to the study of the effects of political propaganda upon public opinion. The content analysis of open-ended responses remains an important application in public opinion analysis because it provides more rigorous data on actual attitudes than the answers given to closed questions or structured multiple-choice responses.

Content analysis is also applied to the study of negotiation in diplomacy and conflict management in order to specify which factors are influential in the outcome of negotiations. The study of political records of speeches, statements, campaign pledges, news broadcasts and election coverage are all important sources of information to which content analysis is applied. For example, content analysis of statements in Hansard (the record of the House of Commons in the UK) is a useful tool for analysing significant changes in political beliefs, or as a way of tracking changes in the behaviour of prime ministers in Parliament. BO\'L

Further reading R.P. Weber, Basic Content Analysis.



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