Qualitative Discourse Analysis: Contribution of Social Semiotics, & Nexus Analysis Masayuki Iwase CMNS 801 (2008 Spring) March 5, 2008
Objective • To provide overview and critical assessment of methodological issues related to methods or strategies used for qualitative discourse analysis • To consider how such unique approaches as “social semiotics” (Kress et al, 1997) and “nexus analysis” (Scollon, 2005) might contribute to compensating for the limitation of qualitative discourse analysis examined
Overview of Qualitative Discourse Analysis • responds against the limitation of the basic principles and applications of quantitative content analysis • 3 types of qualitative discourse analysis SchrØder (2002) • critical linguistics • critical discourse analysis • discursive psychology
Critical Assessment of Qualitative Discourse Analysis: Importance of the Visual • one major issue which the three types of qualitative discourse analysis as well as the aforementioned quantitative content analysis is facing: • that they give the visual aspect of media texts (e.g., of news and other genres in newspapers, of magazines, of television, and of computer media) secondary attention (SchrØder, 2002, p. 110).
Critical Assessment of Qualitative Discourse Analysis: Importance of the Visual • semiotics (a science that studies the life of signs within society) greatly contributes to qualitative discourse analysis in terms of providing analytical procedures and methodological frameworks of the visual signs (SchrØder, 2002, p. 111). • Roland Barthes and an American philosopher and logician Charles Sandres Peirce, who emphasized text-image (or image-text) relationships within the same media message.
Critical Assessment of Qualitative Discourse Analysis: Importance of the Visual • Anchorage refers to something that “appears in the form of a title, a caption, or an accompanying press article” (SchrØder, 2002, p. 111). It is subdivided into both “identifying anchorage”, through which “the text helps to identify purely and simply the elements of the scene as a denoted description of the image”, and “interpreting anchorage”, which “guides the interpretation of the connoted meaning away from too personal associations or ideologically undesirable meanings” (ibid., p. 111). • Relay is created by seizing a text that may be understood as an utterance spoken by a character in the image: it creates a complementary relationship between a text and the image by making a connection with an assumption drawn from outside a text and by utilizing them at a higher level, that of story, the anecdote, or the diegesis (ibid., p. 111).
Critical Assessment of Qualitative Discourse Analysis: Importance of the Visual • A symbol refers to “a sign whose relation with its object is a matter of convention, with verbal language” (ibid., p. 111). • An icon refers to a referent or a sign resembling certain real world phenomena (ibid., p. 111). • An index signifies an object through some existential or physical connection with it (e.g., smoke=fire) (ibid., p. 111).
Egg McMuffin • Photo to be shown
Theoretical Contribution of Social Semiotics & nexus analysis • Muti-Modality: • “it has become impossible to read texts reliably by paying attention to written languages alone: it exists as one representational element in a text which is always multi-modal, and it has to be read in conjunction with all the other semiotic modes of that text” (Kress et al, p. 257).
Theoretical Contribution of Social Semiotics & nexus analysis • We call this practice social semiotics to draw attention to all forms of meaning making as a social activity, set in the field of politics; in structures of power; and subject, therefore to the contestations arising out of the differing interests of the makers of texts…We assume that the interests of the maker of a sign lead to a motivated relation between signifier and signified, and therefore to motivated signs. The maker of the sign seeks to produce the most apt representation of her or meaning. The sign maker’s interest is therefore coded directly in the formal means of representation and communication” (Kress et al, 2002, p. 259).
Theoretical Contribution of Social Semiotics & nexus analysis • To define a nexus analysis as succinctly as I can at this stage of development, I can say that a nexus analysis takes as its central focus the action of a human social actor acting with mediational means. This it owes to activity/practice theiry. A bite of a [McDonald’s] hamburger is the sort of things we have in mind here. Where it extends activity, theory is to then seek the trajectories of persons, objects, and discourses through this moment of human action. In this, nexus analysis is fundamentally ethnographic when it focuses on human actions, on the one hand, and historical when it focuses on the texts and other material objects which circulate through moments of action and the other” (Scollon, 2005, p. 485).