Through Content Analysis Method

A critical glossary
Content analysis

In terms of media studies, content analysis is a quantitative research method used to explore media effects in mass communication. It is used to implement, depict and analyse the quantitative dissemination by data resource (Riffe, Lacy and Fico, 2005). Moreover, the content analysis traits are either provided with unobtrusive,quantitative and systematic method. Specifically, unobtrusive reflects in the way that researchers are not necessarily able to access respondents, instead, they analyse the information content by transforming the textual content to data sources (Riffe, Lacy and Fico, 2005). Additionally, the systematic content analysis explains how the “frame” determines the definition (Riffe, Lacy and Fico, 2005). Lastly, tables it results in to the main demonstrates in the data form hence providing an explanation. The data is measured, categorized and set into particular orders, which demonstrate the disparity of the content and apprises the reliability for researchers (Riffe, Lacy and Fico, 2005).

Content analysis is used broadly in all media fields as long as it provides the textual content. For instance, George Gerbner applied content analysis on Cultural indicator to reveal the effects of violence to children on television (Krippendorff, 2013). The result has been calculated and measured by data which is selected and categorized from reality. Although content analysis offers an objective method to research, the media affects in an intuitive way by transforming textual resource to data. Scholars have claimed that most content analysis failed to connect with the created content or its effect. Also, out of 486 research cases, 72% which lack framework leading to a disconnect in the causes and effects of the content (Riffe, Lacy and Fico, 2005).


Content analysis allows researchers to explore the media effects through the verities in dissemination (Drisko and Maschi, 2016). This sort of quantitative research method is valid for all textual media field. By coding textual resource, the categorized data provides an intuitional result which allow researchers to prove and engage measurement. This is a convenient method that can be used to observe the media effects.

Critical discourse analysis is a qualitative research method which critically investigates and observes discourse from context (Machin and Mayr, 2012). The way critical discourse analysis differs from discourse analysis is that critical discourse analysis liberates the discourse from the textual material and leads it to social practices, which observes the social power relation and ideology.

Critical discourse analysis is a qualitative research method which critically investigates and observes discourse from context (Machin and Mayr, 2012). The way critical discourse analysis differs from discourse analysis is that critical discourse analysis liberates the discourse from the textual material and leads it to social practices, which observes the social power relation and ideology.

There are many benefits that are associated with discourse analysis. It gives an explanation on the power relations by disclosing the meaning of hidden written or spoken words. It also gives an emphasis on the need of ideologies and gives an idea on the methods that can be used to attain political goals (Machin and Mayr, 2012). However, the method should be used with a lot of caution when making a macro or a micro treatment since the analysis may not be satisfactory since the concept is not used in a context that is more dynamic. Secondly, the access to communication sources is limited due to the less attention that it is given. The theory is highly applicable in areas that do not involve the non-linguistic and linguistic dimensions (Young and Harrison, 2004).


Cultivation refers to George Gerbner’s television violence project in 1967. It reflected the extent of violent television shows influenced on viewers depending on the time spent by the viewers on watching shows. The more time the viewers spend on television, the heavier the influence as well as the more they are convinced that the television shows manifest the reality (Shanahan and Morgan, 1999). Television is a sort of centralized media platform which subtly cultivates viewers. Also, cultivation analysis aims at revealing how the media affects people in the reality and what kind of function it brings into play. Also, it constitutes the third part of cultural indicator, which is the program initiated by George Gerbner. On one hand, Gerbner claimed that mass communication links the values and attitudes together, which are cultivated by mass media. Therefore, the cultivation of homogenized political perspectives among the viewers is in response to the function of media effects, which is called “mainstreaming” (Shanahan and Morgan, 1999). Television is playing the role of blurring the viewers’ perspectives and values in terms of economic, political and social extent and motivates viewers' perspectives gradually tending to the same. Gerbner also raised the “resonance” as one of the phenomena in cultivation theory. “Resonance” is when the viewers are convinced that their opinion is the truth once they are approved on television.

Cultivation theory is coined and developed from the method of content analysis by George Gerbner, which revealed how the effects of television shape people’s perspective. With the development of media industry, the influence of media has been reinforced and enlarged in many aspects of viewer's life (Casey, 2008). This is because people are able to access it anywhere and anytime on the mobile device due to the digitized media. However, as the cultivation theory develops effects of resonance and mainstreaming in the media, people need to realize the significance of critical thinking and filtering information. Besides, the mass media is supposed to take the social responsibility to enlighten viewers and to promote the diversity of political perspectives.

Cultural indicator

Cultural indicator in media studies is sourced from the project which was carried out by George Gerbner on violence situation. Gerbner asserted three pronged of cultural indicator: institutional process analysis, message system analysis and cultivation analysis (Hopkins, 2016). Cultural indicator mainly focuses on the television violence phenomena which explores how the violent TV shows affects viewers’ behaviour. Gerbner summarized that the more time that people spend on watching TV, the more violent they act and the less selective they can be.

First, institutional process analysis intends to observe formation of the flow of media information and the relevant policies, and how the dissemination is created, designed, and propagated. Second, the message system, which is systematic on mass media information, also analyses the images in media platform. Then, cultivation analysis mainly focuses on how accessing television is assisting viewers’ perspectives about reality (Minkov, 2013). . It purposes to make the people watch more or less television comparable, and demonstrates how people who watch more television are more likely to perceive the actuality close to the television programs.

Cultural indicator provides the effective investigation about how television affects people’s perspective of the reality. Thus, Gerbner explore “mean world syndrome” phenomena, which reflects the more people perceive violence on television, the less they perceive the dangerous and violence in the real world (Minkov, 2013). Nonetheless, Gerbner did not categorize the type of violence.

Mean world syndrome

Mean world syndrome is the phenomena which was created by George Gerbner in 1967. In order to cope with the television violence situation in Cultural indicator program, Gerbner conducted research on how people watching violent television shows would perceive the reality. As one of the conclusions of cultural indicator, mean world syndrome represents the desensitization of peoples' perception on the actuality around them once they have been addicted to violent television programs over time (Tosoni, Tarantino, and Giaccardi, 2013). Therefore, this group of people will be fearful with the surrounding and choose to stay indoor rather than doing outdoor activities. Moreover, they also act as disregarding with the reality and they believe the real world is more dangerous than it demonstrates.

Although there is less evidence to prove that television violence has a direct influence on making people more selfish, accessing the violence themes are inevitable and gradually distorts the real world as more dangerous than they think. Hence, viewers start to realize the need to protect themselves from this “dangerous world” (Wood, n.d.). Mean world syndrome is an urgent issue in reality, and it becomes more and more generalized. It not only represents the considerable effect of mass media, but also the negative effect among audience.

Media effects

Media effects aim at exploring the mass media effect on individuals’ behaviour and perspectives. More specifically, media effects include a number of media theories which are used in the research of dissemination principals like social learning theory and cultivation theory (Potter, 2012). The way that scholars discover media effects is through exploiting either sociological tradition or interpretive tradition method to observe the results of the phenomena. Then the particular result demonstrates the media effects thereby reducing the particular theories. Media effects usually reflect and expose social problems and audience’s need, also relevant to political and economic issues.

Additionally, media effects are always controversial in a powerful or a limited way. Its assumption that audiences are passive to receive the information and values is powerful. Thus, theories like hypodermic needle theory and cultivation theory demonstrate that dissemination mediate values and perspectives subtly into an audience’s mind (Nabi, 2009). With the rise of commercial media, private owned media companies stimulate people’s consumption desire. Theodor Adorno and the members in Frankfurt school asserted “commodity fetishism” aiming to critique the situation that people consume the pseudo-needs irrationally. However, in the way of shaping people's particular behaviour or opinion, mass communication is limited. Media has only been proved to alter the extent of people’s knowledge.

The development of mass communication is in favour of transforming information and reinforcing people’s communication to the society and to the world. However, media effects also brings out the negative ways that shape people’s values towards achieving certain goals. Therefore, critical thinking should be promoted among people since it will be beneficial for people to receive the information and values more objectively.

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  • Casey, B. (2008). Television studies. London: Routledge.
  • Drisko, J. W., & Maschi, T. (2016). Content analysis.
  • Hopkins, B. (2016). Cultural Differences and Improving Performance: How Values and Beliefs Influence Organizational Performance
  • Krippendorff, K. (2013). Content analysis: an introduction to its methodology. Thousand Oaks, Calif, Sage
  • Machin, D., & Mary, A. (2012). How to Do Critical Discourse Analysis: a Multimodal Introduction. SAGE Publications.
  • Minkov, M. (2013). Cross-cultural analysis: the science and art of comparing the world's modern societies and their cultures. Thousand Oaks, Calif, SAGE Publications.
  • Nabi, R. L. (2009). The sage handbook of media processes and effects. SAGE Publications, Inc.
  • Potter, W. J. (2012). Media Effects
  • Shanahan, J., & Morgan, M. (1999). Television and its viewers: cultivation theory and research. New York, Cambridge University Press
  • Tosoni, S., Tarantino, M., & Giaccardi, C. (2013). Media and the city: urbanism, technology and communication.
  • Wood, J. T. (n.d.). Communication Mosaics, an introduction to the field of communication
  • Young, L., & Harrison, C. (2004). Systemic functional linguistics and critical discourse analysis: studies in social change. London, Continuum.

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