Analyzing Visual Data by Michael S. Ball, Gregory W H Smith

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By Michael S. Ball, Gregory W H Smith

This quantity offers a easy framework for utilizing visible info - specifically nonetheless pictures - as a device for social research. The authors confirm the significance of theoretical assumptions in studying those info and supply suggestion on the right way to use photos in cognitive, symbolist and structuralist study. The publication is richly illustrated with examples starting from local American mask to body spray ads.

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Moreover, there are circumstances where frequency of a measure of significance can be positively misleading. In a popular film, to take an example from Burgelin (1972), a gangster may commit dozens of evil deeds, all of which may be "redeemed" in the audience's eyes by a single, splendidly heroic act in the final scene (p. 319). A count of antisocial and prosocial acts would not begin to get close to the meaning of the gangster's conduct in the film. Rather than viewing significance in frequency terms, structuralism argues "that the meaning of what is frequent is only revealed by opposition to what is rare" (Burgelin, 1972, p.

He noted his admiration for their aesthetic properties even as he indicated the analytical problem they posed: Looking at these masks, I was ceaselessly asking myself the same questions. Why this unusual shape, so ill-adapted to their function? Of course I was seeing them incomplete because in the old days they were topped by a crown of swan or golden eagle feathers ... intermingled with some thin reeds adorned by "snowballs" of down that quivered with every movement of the wearer.... But these trimmings, which may be seen in old photographs, rather accentuate the strongness of the mask without shedding any light on its mysterious aspects: why the gaping mouth, the flabby lower jaw exhibiting an enormous tongue?

3. DEVISING A SET OF CATEGORIES The categories into which the content is to be coded are plainly central parts of the analytical process. As Berelson (1952) observed, "Content nnalysis stands or falls by its categories ... since the categories contain the substance of the investigation, a content analysis can be no better than its ~ystcm of categories" (p. 147). There are certain general criteria to be satisfied by all categories for a sound content analysis to be produced (cf. I lolsti, 1969, pp.

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