Published March 31, 2004 | Version v1
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Discourse analysis and content analysis: Two solitudes?


In this essay, we outline the key features of discourse analysis, contrast it with content analysis, and then consider the extent to which these two methods can be seen as either complementary to, or in conflict with, each other. Our underlying premise is pluralist in that while we recognize that these two methods are based in very different philosophical camps and play very different roles in social science research, we also believe that they can be seen as complementary and even mutually supportive in the exploration of social reality. Furthermore, given the recent “linguistic turn” in social science and the related increasing interest in the study of texts of various kinds, the contrast between these two methods provides a particularly useful context in which to discuss assumptions about the nature of language and the role of linguistic methods in social research.



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2153-6767 (ISSN)