Thursday, February 2, 2012

Content Analysis: still a valuable tool?

            Gill defines content analysis as “a quantitative technique which measures certain aspects of a media text” (Gill, 43).  With a similar definition, van Zoonen defines content analysis as “research technique for the objective, systematic and quantitative description of the manifest of content of communication” (van Zoonen, 69).  A conclusion that content analysis produces is that the violence depicted on television and other types of media does not reflect the low amount of violence in reality.  Another conclusion produced from content analysis, but through a feminist study, is that television does not accurately depict the number of women in the world.  These quantitative studies often focus on the lack of women representing the contribution that women make to the work force.  Content analysis has been extremely valuable in identifying stereotypes in the media.  Its availability to women outside of feminist scholars has allowed other women to conduct content analysis and to critique media representations with smaller groups and other activist. 
            Although content analysis has the ability to reach a wide audience of users and has proven to be a value tool in identifying the lack of women in the media, it is currently being critiqued.  Gill explains that scholars are questions how the media should reflect society, but instead it is producing a sculpted version of reality.  Scholars are also questioning the meaning of content analysis.  Along with the meaning of a single image, scholars are lastly questioning the levels of meaning.  Scholars believe that the symbols that women depict are not being evaluated.  Content analysis has been extremely successful in providing evidence in many past studies; however, I believe that conclusions drawn from content analysis need to be further analyzed to seek the meaning behind representations. 

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