Analysis of Text

Visual Methodologies by Gillian Rose – A Critical Review

This chapter is written as an introduction to, and an explanation of content analysis. The author writes in plain English and avoids using overwhelming amounts of technical language and terminology whilst still introducing the reader to key concepts, theories, processed and language. All claims made are well supported by research done by authorities in the field and the chapter has a very factual approach.

Rose begins by introducing the method of content analysis and contrasts the difference between this approach and other methods discussed in the book. She gives a brief history and also gives examples for reference and further reading, Lutzs & Collins, Krippendorf, Weber etc. whist also highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of this method of analysing images.

Rose then goes on to describe the process, how this method of quantitative analysis works by counting the frequency of certain visual elements in a clearly defined sample of images and then analysing those frequencies. The first step is to find your images, the images you choose are intended to answer a question, once you have a question you then look for relevant images from appropriate sources. Subsequently she conveys the different ways in images can be sampled random, stratified, systematic or cluster. The second step is then to devise categories for coding your images. These coding categories must have a number of characteristics regardless of their status as descriptive or interpretive, these are exhaustive, exclusive and enlightening. Once you have your categories the third step is to code the images. When doing so you need to avoid the possibility that different coders might interpret the images in different ways. The categories must be completely unambiguous so the coding process is replicable and all relevant codes must be attached to each image. The final step is to analyse the results. This is done by counting the number of each code, often producing frequency counts. These counts are then used to produce charts or to compare with other values.

The chapter then has an assessment of content analysis discussing it’s uses and flaws, going into greater depths arguing the cases both for and against this method. Finally the chapter is closed by a summary and further reading resources.

To sum up the chapter and the authors intentions, the writing style is informal and light implying that the text is intended for an audience with no previous knowledge of the subject matter. The layout and flow of the text is consistent and easy to follow with a logical progression in the amount of detail offered. The author also remains unbiased in her writing, only offering supported arguments and referencing sources to support these arguments. Although the text isn’t heavy reading the author remains well informed and approaches the subject matter in an academic manner thus creating a good entry level book which explains all the key aspects, giving the reader a good grounding and knowledgebase needed for further development.

G Rose, 2007, Visual Methodologies 2nd Edition, Sage.