Content analysis is used for the systematic analysis of media texts and communications (e.g.television, written documents, websites, etc.) Berelson(1952): content analysis is "a research technique for the objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication." Though content analysis can be an 'umbrella term', referring to both quantitative and qualitative forms of analysis, for the qualitative method, please see semiology.


Content analysis enables sociologists to:

  • Uncover underlying patterns and themes that may not be immediately apparent
  • Uncover recurrent themes with predictive qualities, such as female associations with housework
  • 'Concept mapping': to organise knowledge and draw complex conclusions from simple data-collection techniques


  • Interpretations is involved, so result might be influenced by subjective judgements by the researchers
  • Might be difficult to replicate the study
  • Tells us little about 'how' and 'why' the underlying themes and patterns exist, and the audience's response towards it.

Examples of Research

Asylum Truth Headlines - Oxfam

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