Update #3: Basic Content Analysis Methodology

Hello Everyone,

I thought now would be a good time to share the basic methodology of content analysis that I’m using in my research. For example, I’ll be using a song from my sample called “Hell You Talmbout” by Janelle Monae. “Hell You Talmbout” is a protest song released in the summer of 2015, its goal was to call attention to police brutality by repeatedly calling the names of victims, thereby forcing the issue into public consciousness. A picture of the song lyrics, which shows my methodology in detail, is attached.

For the first step of basic analysis, the researcher must decide on the level of analysis. Due to the unique stylings of individual artists, I decided that analyzing specific words would be detrimental, so I decided to code for general themes. Two of these chosen themes–the names of victims and slogans associated with the #BLM movement–feature heavily in “Hell You Talmbout.” After deciding the level of analysis, researchers must decide whether or not to include all common themes, or only the themes relating to the research topic. In order to streamline the process, I coded only for themes related to the #BLM movement. Afterward, researchers decide to code for mere existence of themes or frequency of themes. I decided to code for frequency, counting every lyric in which a theme is mentioned. Finally, researchers must decide what to do with irrelevant information. I decided to discard lyrics unrelated to #BLM themes.

In the pictures below, you can see that the names of victims of police brutality are highlighted in pink, and the popular #BLM slogan “Say His/Her Name” is highlighted in yellow. As indicated in the margin, the slogan appears 126 times during the six minute long protest piece, while the names of victims appear 72 times. Now, “Hell You Talmbout” is exceptional not only for its effectiveness as an attention-grabbing protest piece, but also for its simplicity of thematic content. The additional pieces in my research tend to be more lyrically complex, but “Hell You Talmbout” is a great example for demonstrating the basics of my methodology.


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