*Please note this course is now fully booked and we are no longer accepting Applications*


Lea Sgier is an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest where she teaches courses on discourse analysis, qualitative research methods, and gender and politics, and a lecturer in qualitative methods at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Her fields of research are gender&politics (women in institutional politics, women quotas), old age (dementia policy, elder people’s citizenship) and qualitative methods.

Course Content
This is a course centered mainly on the analysis of textual data in an interpretive spirit. The main emphasis is on exploring various approaches to qualitative data analysis and interpretation, from thematic analysis and the logic of formalized “coding”, to interpretative approaches such as discourse and narrative analysis. We will discuss how each of these methods reveals different aspects of the data and is grounded in different research perspectives. We will review the nature, strengths and limits of various approaches and get acquainted with their practicalities through a series of practical exercises.

We will also explore the implications of various types of analysis on the data generation stage, for qualitative interviewing in particular, and reflect upon issues such as appropriate topic guides, interviewing techniques and transcription practices. (This is not a full course on interviewing though, only the aspects directly connected to the data analysis stage will be discussed).

Particular attention will also be given to the writing-up stage of qualitative analysis and its difficulties. Other topics to be addressed are the epistemological foundations of qualitative research, validity and reliability issues, as well as issues of interpretative authority and research ethics.

The course consists of lectures and practical exercises. Participants will be invited to hand in various pieces of data analysis in the course of the two weeks. They will have the opportunity to work on their own data if they wish.

Course Objectives
The aim of this course is to familiarize participants with the practical application of qualitative data analysis, with an emphasis on interpretative methods. At the end of the course, participants will understand the implications of applying various methods to textual and interview data. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a more sophisticated and critical attitude towards data, the research process and research reports.

This is not an introductory course to qualitative methodology in general, but a doctoral-level course that focuses mostly on (textual) data analysis. It is suitable mainly for two types of participants: participants already engaged in research requiring textual analysis who are moving towards the data analysis stage and need to acquire some analytical tools for this; and participants at earlier stages of their research who wish to gain a general understanding of various approaches to textual analysis.

Course Prerequisites
A general understanding of qualitative research in the social and human sciences (MA level or equivalent).
Participants with little prior knowledge in qualitative research who consider taking this course are advised to contact the instructor before enrolling.

Remedial Reading
Silverman, D. 2006. Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analyzing Talk, Text, and Interaction. (3rd ed.) Sage.
Coffey, A. and Atkinson, P. 1996. Making Sense of Qualitative Data. Sage.

Representative Background Reading
Wetherell, Margaret., Taylor, Stephanie and Yates, Simeon J. (Eds) 2001. Discourse as Theory and Practice. London: Sage.
Wetherell, Margaret., Taylor, Stephanie and Yates, Simeon J. (Eds) 2001. Discourse as Data. London: Sage.

Day 1: Introduction

– introduction to the course
– uses of qualitative research
– the nature and difficulties of qualitative research
– interpretive qualitative research

Assignment 1 (for day 2)

Day 2: Qualitative Content Analysis

– the analytical process in content analysis
– thematic analysis
– main problems in qualitative content analysis

Readings: Ritchie/Spencer (2003), Kohler Riessman (2008), ch. 3.

Day 3: Discourse and Narrative Analysis (1)

– introduction to interpretive analysis
– discourses and narratives (1)
– meaning and power

Readings: Gill (2000), Fairclough (1989), Verloo and Lombardo (2007)

Day 4: Discourse and Narrative Analysis (2)

– discourses and narratives (2)
– the methodology of discourse and narrative analysis
– problems with over- and under-interpretation

Readings: Kohler Riessman (2008), ch. 5, Plummer (1995)
Assignment 2 (for day 7)

Day 5: Discourse and Narrative Analysis (3)

– the use of discourse and narrative analysis for the analysis of
– the process of interpretive analysis
– validity in interpretive research

Reading: Ely et al. (1997).


Day 6: Discourse and Narrative Analysis (4)

– sampling issues
– conceptual issues in discourse and narrative analysis
– the limits of interpretive analysis

Readings: Wetherell (2001), Bacchi (2009), Ritchie, Lewis and Elam (2003)

Day 7: Working With Interview Data
– the interconnectedness of data analysis and data production
– interviewing for content, discourse and narrative analyses
– managing interpretive dilemmas

Reading: Hermanowicz (2002), Borland (2004)

Day 8: Ethical, Epistemological and Practical Issues in Qualitative Analysis

– quality criteria in qualitative research
– the ethics of social research

Readings: Hammersley (2008), Ritchie and Lewis (2003), Kriesi (1992) and/or
Esseveld and Eyerman (1992)

Day 9: Writing Up

– a critical look at academic writing
– balancing description, analysis and interpretation
– ethical issues in writing up
– managing the writing process

Readings: Boice (2004), Becker (1986)
Assignment 3 (for day 10).

Day 10 Conclusion

– Questions and final discussion (on the basis of assignment 3).

(Each participant will receive a printed reading pack upon arrival at Essex).

Becker, Howard S. (1986). Writing for Social Scientists. How to Start and Finish your Thesis,
Book, or Article. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, ch. 2 and 3.

Bacchi, Carol (2009). “The Issue of Intentionality in Frame Theory”, in Lombardo, Emanuela,
Meier, Petra and Verloo, Mieke (eds). The Discursive Politics of Gender Equality.
London/New York: Routledge: pp. 19-35

Boice, Robert (2000). Advice to New Faculty Members. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, ch. 10.

Borland, Katherine (2004). “ „That is Not What I Said‟. Interpretive Conflict in Oral Narrative
Research”, in Hesse-Biber, S.N. et Leavy, P. (eds), Approaches to Qualitative
Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 522-534.

Ely, Margot, Vinz, Ruth, Downing, Maryann and Anzul, Margaret (1997). On Writing
Qualitative Research. Living by Words. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer, ch. 5.

Esseveld, Johanna and Esseveld, Ron (1992). “Which Side Are You On? Reflections on
Methodological Issues in the Study of „Distasteful‟ Social Movements”, in Diani, Mario and Eyerman, Ron (eds), Studying Collective Action. London: Sage, pp. 217-237.

Fairclough, Norman (1989). Language and Power. London/New York: Longman, ch. 2 and 3.

Gill, Rosalind (2000). “Discourse Analysis”, in Bauer, M. and Gaskell, G., Qualitative
Researching with Text, Image and Sound. London: Sage, pp. 172-190.

Hammersley, Martyn (2008). “The Issue of Quality in Qualitative Research”, in Hammersley,
Martyn, Questioning Qualitative Inquiry. London: Sage, pp.158-179.

Hermanowicz, Joseph C. (2002). “The Great Interview: 25 Strategies for Studying People in
Bed”, Qualitative Sociology 25(4): 479-499.

Kohler Riessman, Catherine (2008). Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. London:
Sage, ch. 3 and 5 (“Thematic analysis” and “Dialogic/Performance Analysis”).

Kriesi, Hanspeter (1992). “The Rebellion of the Research „Objects‟”, in Diani, Mario and
Eyerman, Ron (eds), Studying Collective Action. London: Sage, pp. 194-216.

Plummer, Ken (1995). Telling Sexual Stories. Power, Change and Social Worlds. London:
Sage, ch. 2 and 3.

Ritchie, Jane and Spencer, Liz (2002). “Qualitative Data Analysis for Applied Policy
Research”, in Huberman, A. Michael and Miles, Matthew B. (eds), The Qualitative
Research Companion. Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 305-329.

Ritchie, Jane and Lewis, Jane (2003). “Generalising from Qualitative Research”, in Ritchie,
Jane and Lewis, Jane (eds), Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage, pp. 263-
286 (ch. 10).

Ritchie, Jane, Lewis, Jane and Elam, Gillian (2003). “Designing and Selecting Samples”, in

Ritchie, Jane and Lewis, Jane (eds), Qualitative Research Practice, London: Sage,
pp. 77-108.

Verloo, Mieke and Lombardo, Emanuela (2007). “Contested Gender Equality and Policy
Variety in Europe: Introducing a Critical Frame Analysis Approach”, in Verloo, Mieke
(ed.), Multiple Meanings of Gender Equality. A Critical Frame Analysis of Gender
Policies in Europe. Budapest/New York: CPS Books/CEU Press, pp. 21-49.

Wetherell, Margaret (2001), “Debates in Discourse Research”, in Wetherell, Margaret,
Taylor, Stephanie and Yates, Simeon, J. (eds), Discourse Theory and Practice. A
Reader. London: Sage, pp. 380-399.