Defining Text Analysis

Not surprisingly, there has been disagreement on how to define text analysis. Shapiro and Markoff (1997) suggest the following minimal definition: Text analysis is "any systematic reduction of a flow of text (or other symbols) to a standard set of statistically manipulable symbols representing the presence, the intensity, or the frequency of some characteristics relevant to social science" (p. 14). This definition includes both qualitative (Riessman, 1993; Shiffrin, 1994) and quantitative approaches. In accord with the notion of measurement in this handbook, this chapter focuses exclusively on quantitative text analysis applications.

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