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Text analysis: an introductory manifesto

Bauer, Martin W., Bicquelet, Aude and Suerdem, Ahmet K. (2014) Text analysis: an introductory manifesto. In: Bauer, Martin W., Bicquelet, Aude and Suerdem, Ahmet K., (eds.) Textual Analysis. SAGE Benchmarks in Social Research Methods. Sage, London, UK, xxi-xlvii. ISBN 9781446246894

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Selecting the articles for these volumes of SAGE benchmarks on ‘text analysis’ was no easy task. How to determine the scope of the selection? One could go with a very limited definition of text, such as a canon of official documents or a very broad notion, like ‘cultural artefacts’, representing any meaningful symbol system. These definitions of text resonate with different approaches to text: decoding and deconstruction. The canon selection suggests that the meaning of a text is closed, contained in the work with the sole purpose to transmit a message from author to reader. Within a ‘transfer-conduit’ perspective (see Reddy, 1993), the aim of text analysis is to provide expert tools such as literary criticism, philology, or content analysis to decode the texts which would otherwise be inaccessible for a simple reader; text analysis aims to observe and discover the attitudes, behaviours, concerns, motivations and culture of the text producer from an expert point of view. According to the open definition on the other hand, the meaning of any artefact, including text, is wide open, the message is not there to discover and to deconstruct during the reading process. Recovering the meaning is not an exoteric activity (for experts and the educated), but an esoteric performance (immersive and emergent). But, reading is an interpretive activity that can only be performed by those who are embedded into the symbolic world of the text. All action, if we push the notion, even nature, is a “text” to be read, where signs are intelligently designed to reveal knowledge and guide the way to truth. The purpose of text analysis is thus not the passive reading of the author’s world but the entry into a reflexive dialogue between the reader-analyst and the text.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Sage Publications Ltd
Divisions: Methodology
Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2014 14:44
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2021 23:09

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