Application Exercises

Chapter specific application exercises will help you think about research design in practice or have you explore a relevant resource.

Exercise 1: Discourse Analysis

You will find competing discourses frequently in local and national news media. Often, the issue will be an environmental one as conservationists and historians compete with developers and investors over the proposed use of a historic or environmentally important site. Generically, the two competing discourses are likely to be jobs and economic growth versus nurturing and maintaining the local environment and its history. Another contested discourse especially at election time is the place of government in society—for example, the discourse of freedom and individual enterprise versus the discourse of care and fair treatment for all citizens.

Identify one such current discourse conflict and outline the media you would study; list specific techniques you might use to differentiate the competing discourses; and decide which is the most powerful.

Discourse analysis is frequently done with dominant and minority discourses already identified. How might you predict from discourse analysis which of two competing discourses is likely to become the dominant one?

Exercise 2. Matching Method with Interest

Which of the methods outlined in this chapter would you prefer for researching the following interest areas? Why?

  • Identifying the political agenda, if any, of a newspaper or television network.
  • Identifying the agenda of management in internal organizational media.
  • Explaining how a group makes its decisions.
  • Explaining how two people make a decision.

Exercise 3. Analyzing Organizational Stories

Stories about organizations are frequently told informally to new members of organizations. Whatever the motivation behind the storytelling, the stories often have the effects of explaining how to survive in the organization and of identifying the informal rules that members need to follow if they are to adjust successfully.

Identify stories that you and others heard during the first year of study at your institution. How do these stories differ from one another? What topics do they cover that are not addressed by the official student handbook or institutional policies? Which of the approaches identified in this chapter do you find the most useful for understanding these stories as a way of orienting newcomers to the institution?

Exercise 4. Analyzing Online Harassment: Qualitatively

Revisit the Pew Research Center Internet, Science & Tech Project (2014) survey of online harassment outlined in the Chapter 11 end-of-chapter exercises. The study also provides several hundred selected quotes about harassment from those surveyed at:

Looking at these quotes collectively, what qualitative approach(es) might provide the best understanding of harassment? For example, collectively, do they add up to a summary narrative that can be further analyzed? Looking at these statements, how valid do the six specific types of harassment identified by Pew for its survey appear? If you had these statements before running a survey, how might your survey questions differ from the Pew questions?

The full report, questionnaire, and respondent comments are available at: (Duggan, 2014), with a 2017 update at: