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Media Scholarship in a transitional time: Research in honor of Pamela J. Shoemaker


As media consumers, we are often struck by the content features of what we encounter on television, film, radio, the newspaper, the Internet, in print, and in video games. Content can make us laugh, cry, fearful, angry, or joyful. It can make us feel connected to others or it can make us feel isolated or distant. It can inform us and it can persuade us. It is always teaching us something about the world around us, and the events and people—as well as the values, experiences, and points of view—that make up that world. What, exactly, we encounter through news and entertainment outlets, as well as what we ourselves create and distribute, has much to tell about our culture and the world in which we live.

Content analysis is a social scientific tool that allows for the documentation of the content features of the media and other cultural artifacts in order to better understand them, to determine whether the content we encounter represents broad patterns or is more idiosyncratic in nature, and to begin to consider how and why content features function as they do as cultural products with particular uses, users, and audiences. The method examines the artifacts of culture as an important locus of inquiry in their own right and also has the potential to reveal a great deal about both why and how those cultural artifacts take the shape they do and how individuals might create, use, and/or be influenced by them.


Scharrer, E. (invited; in press). Documenting the “mediated message:” The art and science of content analysis research. In C. Liebler, B. Gorham, & T. Vos. (Eds.), Media scholarship in a transitional time: Research in honor of Pamela J. Shoemaker. New York: Peter Lang.


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