Method and Material
Content Analysis as Qualitatively Research
This thesis builds on qualitative research with a content analysis being used in order to exam-ine LGBT representations on Facebook. The aim of content analysis is to analyse the com-munication and its content (Hansen & Machin, 2013). Qualitative research, according to Bryman (2012), generally focuses on words and meanings instead of frequencies of data. In this case, this thesis belongs to qualitative research for it aims to explore self-representations of a particular group – LGBT on Facebook and it analyses content and thematics of the posts on Facebook rather than the quantity.
Sample and Selection Criteria
A content analysis will be conducted on posts from both a private LGBT group and an open page – “LGBT News”. The results of analysis are answers to these three questions in order to explore self-representations of LGBT as sexual minorities on Facebook. Since the content in the private group is only available to people who are in the group, analysis of posts from the group will remain anonymous. The criteria for the selection of posts is based on the cate-gories of the content. Two categories are displayed in the open page: links and images. Three categories are involved in the private group: links, images and personal statements.
The Analysis of the private group mainly focuses on the first research question: How do LGBT individuals represent themselves as part of sexual minority in the private group on Facebook? While the open page concentrates more on the second: What kinds of content are shared on the open page on Facebook? Since posts from the group are more private and per-sonal compared to the open page. Although there is also shared information in the group, it focuses more on individuals such as posts about personal feelings, daily life, personal experi-ences and so on. However, the page is more public since anyone can comment or post on the page, it is a platform that aims to advocate LGBT people and their rights by disseminating positive values and information. The analysis of the private group and open page will be sep-arated. By doing so, similarities and differences of representations in a public non-anony-mous online environment and a relatively private one could be displayed which is also the answer to the third question.
Method: Critical Analysis Discourse (CDA)
Critical Analysis Discourse is used as the method of this thesis. First of all, “The word ‘critical’ has been central to CDA as it was in Critical Linguistics” (Machin & Mayr, 2012:5). Machin and Mayr (2012) also indicate that CDA focuses more on depicting and detailing linguistic characteristics than on the reason why and in what way these characteristics are generated and what ideological goals they are likely to serve. As such a detailed analysis, CDA enables us to disclose more exactly the way authors and speakers make use of language and grammatical characteristics to generate meaning, to convince people to think specifically about events, sometime even to try to control them while simultaneously obscure their purposes of communication.
Moreover, CDA seeks to develop methods and theory that is able to better seize the interrelationship between language, power and ideology and particularly to pull out and depict the conducts and routines within and beyond the texts that discloses investment of politics and ideology. Our capacity to depict texts and to document the way different texts interact can be increased by CDA. CDA is publicly engaged in social change and political intervention as well. CDA presumes that the relations of power are discursive which means power is transferred and practiced by discourse. CDA usually reveals a normal or neutral surface of strategies but one which might be ideological and try to shape the performance of events and individuals for specific ends.
‘Critical’ means ‘denaturalising’ the language to disclose the types of absences, thoughts and presumptions that are taken for granted in texts. This will enable us to discover types of pow-er interests concealed in these texts. Also, there are various instruments in CDA to analyse texts and images which are basically the content of the posts in Facebook. Instruments such as semiotic resources for expressing speakers’ attitudes, linguistic and visual semiotic re-sources to represent individuals, metaphorical tropes in discourse, nominalization & presup-position in language and modality & hedging used in visual communication and texts. Con-necting analyses to procedures could better enable us to comprehend how discourses could exist in society (Machin & Mayr, 2012).
Critical Discourse Analysis Tools
In order to analyse the posts, relevant CDA analytical tools will be displayed below:
Quoting verbs: Machin and Mayr (2012) claim that it is remarkably revealing when we take a close look at the words selected to represent how someone has spoken in both texts and speech. The way these word selections, depicting how someone has spoken, is able to greatly influence the way that authors shape comprehensions of events. Machin and Mayr (2012) classified five kinds of verbs: Neutral structuring verbs, Metapropositional verbs, Metalin-guistic verbs, Descriptive verbs and Transcript verbs. All of these verbs of saying can be utilised to make particular participants more authoritative or subservient, legitimate or non-legitimate. Quoting verbs is also able to guide us to consider if some participants have a nega-tive attitude or being friendly. (such as the post about the transgender person Caitlyn Jenner in the following chapter )
Material Processes: “Material processes describe processes of doing” (Machin & Mayr, 2012: 106). They indicate that generally, these processes are actions that have a material con-sequence, for example ‘The doctor save the patient’. (such as the post about the transgender person Caitlyn Jenner in the following chapter )
Mental processes: Mental processes are processes of sensing. Machin and Mayr (2012) divided these processes into three categories: ‘cognition’ (thinking, knowing and compre-hending verbs), ‘affection’ (liking and disliking, fearing verbs) and ‘perception’ (perceiving, hearing and feeling verbs). (such as the post about the transgender person Caitlyn Jenner in the following chapter )
Metaphor: “A metaphor is basically the means by which we understand one concept in terms of another” (Machin & Mayr, 2012: 167). Machin and Mayr (2012) indicate that metaphor is not only about language or visual communication, but also about ideas itself and the embodiment of people’s experience. Metaphor helps us understand better and be able to deal with colliding objects more easily. (such as the post about Katy Perry in the following chapter)
Representational strategies in language: According to Machin Mayr (2012), there are no neutral ways to represent a person in any language. All choices of language aim to draw attention to particular respects of identity that in relation to specific kinds of discourses. (such as the post about NBA legend Magic Johnson in the following chapter)
Functionalisation: Functionalisation is used to depict participants in terms of what they do. Use of functionalisation is able to sound more official, it can also dehumanise people to a role. Functionalisation can also imply legitimacy ((Machin & Mayr, 2012). (such as the post about NBA legend Magic Johnson in the following chapter)
Functional honorifics: The use of ‘functional honorifics’ is able to display the way people are represented. These normally involve official roles such as ‘President’, ‘Lord’, or ‘Judge’, which propose the degree of seniority or roles that require respect. In other word these em-phasise the significance of a social actor (Machin & Mayr, 2012). (such as the post about two polar bears in the following chapter)
Colour: The use of colours can be striking colours, rich saturated colours or contrasts. Less salient components may have less saturated colours and vice versa (Machin & Mayr, 2012). (such as the image about Obama in the following chapter)
Tone: Machin and Mayr (2012) state that this can be the usage of brightness to draw atten-tion. For example, advertisers always use brighter tones on products to attract customers. (such as the image about Sally Field in the following chapter)
Size: Size is used to illustrate ranking of significance, from the largest to the smallest (Machin & Mayr, 2012). In an image, the larger an object is, the more important it is, which is also what the image emphasises. (such as the image about Sally Field in the following chap-ter)
Poses: Barthes (as cited in Machin & Mayr, 2012:74) indicates that poses are one important area of connotation in images that can represent broader ideas, values and identities. Image creators can depend on these built meanings to frame how we will comprehend the values, ideas and behaviours of these person described. (such as the comic image in the following chapter)
Gaze: It is an important part of poses, gaze describes person, whether they look at the viewer,or whether they look upwards or downwards. All of which as resources direct viewers how they should assess the participant (Machin & Mayr, 2012). (such as the image about ‘Two mommies are better than one’ in the following chapter)
Iconographical or iconological analysis: It is used to examine how do the elements in images represent discourses that may not displayed in the beginning. Images show specific events, people, places and objects. Asking what an image means is asking: who and/or what is demonstrated? Apart from that, images are also used to connote concepts and ideas. From this perspective, asking what an image means is asking: what values and ideas are represent-ed and how? For images creators, they concern more about the way they represent specific values or create particular ideas (Machin & Mayr, 2012). (such as the post of a screenshot in the following chapter)
2. Aim and research questions
3. Previous research
4. Theoretical frame and concepts
5. Method and Material
6. Analysis and Results
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LGBT Representations on Facebook