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Critical Media Content Analysis assignment
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Content analysis
qualitative methods

How to Cite

Scherer, Mary. 2016. “Critical Media Content Analysis Assignment”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, July. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


After learning about content analysis in lecture, discussing its strengths and drawbacks, and reading two articles using content analysis methods, students will experiment with the methods for themselves. The parameters are set on what data they may analyze, but they may choose between a set of Super Bowl ads and a set of Academy Award-nominated movie...

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Subject Area(s):
Qualitative Methodology
Resource Type(s):
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

The texts cited here are assigned reading for the class, and include Ch. 8 from Warren and Karner's (2010) "Discovering Qualitative Methods: Field research, interviews, and analysis" 2nd edition, and Emerson, Fretz and Shaw's (1995) "Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes.

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Produce an independent content analysis requiring to make informed decisions about collecting, organizing, and analyzing media data.
  2. Appraise everyday, taken-for-granted media texts and make connections across discrete units such as individual TV commercials.
  3. Connect data and context by situating commercials and movie posters in broader theoretical frameworks.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. The first goal is assessed based on sections A and C of the project write-up, in which students will describe their process and reflect on the strengths and limitations of content analysis in the context of their own project.
  2. The second goal is assessed based on their descriptive codes, which demonstrates how the student was able to "make the familiar strange"; the analytic memos show how they identify themes across these codes and organize bits of data in analytic groups
  3. The third goal is assessed using students’ integrative memos, where they demonstrate how they see their findings relating to broader sociological ideas and theories. This need not be theoretically sophisticated so long as they demonstrate the technique.

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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