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Analyzing Political Language

Dvora Yanow
Dvora.Yanow.prof@gmail.com

Wageningen University and Research Center

Dvora Yanow is a political/policy/organisational ethnographer and interpretive methodologist. Her research and teaching are shaped by an overall interest in the generation and communication of knowing and meaning in organisational and policy settings.

Current research engages state-created categories for immigrant groups, citizen-making, and race-ethnic identity; research regulation (ethics board) policies; practice studies; science/technology museums and the idea of science; and built space/place analysis. 

Her most recent book, Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes (Routledge 2012), written with Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, is the first volume in their co-edited Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods. A second edition of their co-edited Interpretation and Method was published by ME Sharpe/Routledge in 2014.

As part of a new podcast series, New Books in Interpretive Social Science, hosted by Nick Cheesman (Australian National University), Dvora and Peri talk about their book and discuss what interpretive methods are and why they matter. Listen to the podcast here

Course Dates and Times

Monday 5 to Friday 9 March 2018
09:00-12:30
15 hours over 5 days

Prerequisite Knowledge

1. This course presumes some knowledge of interpretive methodological presuppositions, including the so-called ‘linguistic turn,’ an aspect of the interpretive turn, described in the long course outline [#6 below]. We are not likely to have sufficient time to go into this background in depth.  If you have missed out on these ideas, you can find them in the following key readings:

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The interpretation of cultures. NY: Basic Books, esp. ch. 1.

Hawkesworth, M.E. 1988. Theoretical issues in policy analysis. Albany: SUNY Press, chs. 1-4.

Hiley, David R., Bohman, James F., and Shusterman, Richard, eds. 1991. The interpretive turn. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark.  1980.  Metaphors we live by.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press. [although focused on metaphor, this book includes arguments in re. the character of language underlying this course]

Polkinghorne, Donald E. 1983. Methodology for the human sciences. Albany: SUNY Press. [esp. the opening chapter]

Rabinow, Paul and Sullivan, William M., eds. 1979, 1985. Interpretive social science, 1st and 2nd eds. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ricoeur, Paul. 1971. The model of the text. Social Research 38: 529–62.

Taylor, Charles.  1971/1979. Interpretation and the sciences of man. In Paul Rabinow and William M. Sullivan, eds., Interpretive social science: A reader, 25–71 [also in the 2nd ed.]. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine and Yanow, Dvora. 2012.  Interpretive research design:  Concepts and processes.  NY: Routledge.

Yanow, Dvora and Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine. 2014/2006.  Interpretation and method:  Empirical research methods and the interpretive turn, 2nd ed.  Armonk, NY:  M E Sharpe, especially book introduction, part introductions, chs. 1-7, 24-25.

2. Those students who have already conducted field research and have their own ‘word data’ to analyze are likely to benefit the most, in a practical sense, from this course, although it is not a prerequisite for the course. Those who have not yet generated their own research data will also gain knowledge of this range of ways of looking at linguistic materials.


Short Outline

This course will provide an overview of several methods or approaches that have been developed to analyze political language. Each day will be devoted to one method:  metaphor analysis, category analysis, narrative and storytelling analysis, framing analysis, and visual analysis (also known as ‘visual politics’ or ‘visual methods’). Group meetings (‘laboratories’) outside of class sessions will enable participants working together to ‘workshop’ these various analytic approaches with respect to their own field data, whether these derive from documentary, conversational/interviewing or (participatory-) observational sources, or to delve further into specific readings. The course is not intended as a seminar for discussing individual readings in depth, however, but rather to introduce a variety of methods in a way that renders them immediately usable for analyzing data.

Tasks for ECTS Credits

  • Participants attending the course: 2 credits (pass/fail grade) The workload for the calculation of ECTS credits is based on the assumption that students attend classes and carry out the necessary reading and/or other work prior to, and after, classes.
  • Participants attending the course and completing one task (see below): 3 credits (to be graded)
  • Participants attending the course, and completing two tasks (see below): 4 credits (to be graded)

This course carries an extensive reading list. For 2 credits: prepare the readings for the course ahead of time; attend all class meetings; participate in discussions of the readings and the other daily assignments, including ’lab’ workgroups.

Active participation in class earns a 3rd unit, and taking an active part in the ‘laboratory’ assignments will earn a 4th one.

Because of the character of the course material, there are no exams, take-home papers or class projects in this course.


Long Course Outline

The ‘interpretive turn’ in mid-late 20th century social sciences brought with it renewed attention to the role of language in social and political life.  The ‘linguistic turn’ built on the established idea that in (re)presenting lived experience, language is not, and should not be seen as, an exact ‘mirror of [human] nature’ (to invoke Richard Rorty’s title) or a transparent referent of those experiences, but needs to be understood as an interpretation of them.  As researchers, we ‘translate’ others’ and our own experiences into language—what Charles Taylor (1971) called ‘text analogues’ (see also Ricoeur 1971)—for purposes of analysis. Consider, for example, field notes that render persons, events, interactions, and the material world of research settings and the artifacts in it as written texts. Additionally, these days, the notion of language needs to be taken not only in a literal sense–referencing research-relevant documents, whether contemporary or archival, or field conversations, including interviews–but also with respect to repertoires of visual and nonverbal ‘languages.’

This course will explore several methods or approaches that have been developed to analyze political language:  metaphor analysis, category analysis, narrative and storytelling analysis, framing analysis, and visual analysis.  Each day’s session is intended to introduce one of these ways of looking at the topic, theoretically, and includes a set of empirical articles or papers that use that method.  We will touch briefly on language and the politics of science (e.g., 1976 articles by Richard Harvey Brown and by Joseph Gusfield), but the course will not cover rhetoric, discourse analysis or some other topics that might well fit under this broad umbrella.  (For discourse analysis proper, see the self-standing course offered in the ECPR Methods Summer School. But please note that some of the confusion over what discourse analysis means includes the analysis of discourses, and some of the topics we will take up fall within that understanding.)

Note: There is no opportunity to do additional work beyond the bounds and dates of this course in order to earn additional credits beyond the 2 ECTS that are offered for a one-week course.

Day Topic Details
1

In class

09:00-12:30 each day with a 30-minute break mid-way through

In lab

Afternoon or evening times (to be determined by group members)

2

In class

09:00-12:30 each day with a 30-minute break mid-way through

In lab

Afternoon or evening times (to be determined by group members)

3

In class

09:00-12:30 each day with a 30-minute break mid-way through

In lab

Afternoon or evening times (to be determined by group members)

4

In class

09:00-12:30 each day with a 30-minute break mid-way through

In lab

Afternoon or evening times (to be determined by group members)

5

In class

09:00-12:30 each day with a 30-minute break mid-way through

In lab

Afternoon or evening times (to be determined by group members)

Monday - Friday

Class: 09:00-12:30 daily with a 30-minute break, halfway through.

Lab: Afternoon or evening (to be agreed with group members), meeting on your own.

Monday Metaphor analysis
Tuesday Category analysis
Wednesday Narrative & storytelling analysis
Thursday Framing analysis
Friday Visual analysis
Day Readings
1

A basic field research presentation, which we will read together, line by line, to illustrate the main argument.

The substantive methodological reading for this course, which should be done prior to arrival in Bamberg, is listed below in the 'Literature' list the section headed Writing as ‘world-making’:  The rhetorics of science.

Daily readings are the articles we will discuss, at length, in class, paying attention to the details of their composition. Those reading assignments will be provided to registered and paid participants.

2

Two field research articles for comparative analysis: One from sociology, the other in political science from an overseas setting, both engaging organizational practices.

3

Two more for comparative analysis, focusing on responding to methodological challenges from reviewers: one from Organization Studies, one from the  American Political Science Review.

4

Students’ papers OR articles from students’ own fields OR instructor’s articles. TBD based on class size.

5

Example of a ‘writing career’

Monday (metaphor)

Donald Schon, Donald F. Miller, chapters in two edited collections (Terrell Carver and Jernej Pikalo, Political language and metaphor; Alan Cienki and Dvora Yanow, ‘Politics and language’, Journal of International Relations and Development special issue), and others

Tuesday (categories)

Ian Hacking, George Lakoff, Ralph Hummel, Patrick Simon, Dvora Yanow, and others

A detailed syllabus with specific reading assignments will be provided to registered participants. The following schedule is intended to be suggestive of the approach to each day’s subject matter; actual readings will be drawn from these and others.

Thursday (framing)

Donald Schön, Martin Rein, Carol Bacchi, and other scholars writing in the public policy tradition (as distinct from social movement frame analysis)

Friday (visual)

Mary Bellhouse (on paintings), Ilan Danjoux (on cartoons), Dvora Yanow (on built spaces), and others

Wednesday (narrative-stories)

Shaul Shenhav, Joseph Gusfield, Deborah Stone, Merlijn van Hulst, and others

Software Requirements

None

Hardware Requirements

None

Literature

These are some suggested additional readings that speak to one or more aspects of this course; more will be provided to registered students:

Bowker, Geoffrey C. and Star, Susan Leigh. 1999. Sorting things out. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Gamson, William A. 1992. Talking politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (esp. chapter on cartoons).

Gusfield, Joseph R. 1981. The culture of public problems: Drinking-driving and the symbolic order. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, esp. ch. 1.

McCloskey, Donald N.  1994.  How to do a rhetorical analysis of economics, and why.  In Roger Backhouse, ed., Economic methodology, 319-42.  London: Routledge.

Polkinghorne, Donald E. 1988. Narrative knowing and the human sciences. Albany: SUNY Press.

Schmidt, Ronald, Sr. 2000. Language policy and identity politics in the United States. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine and Yanow, Dvora. 2002. >Reading= >methods= >texts=:  How research methods texts construct political science. Political Research Quarterly 55: 457-86.

Shenhav, Shaul. 2015. Analyzing political narratives.  NY: Routledge.

Recommended Courses to Cover Before this One

<p><strong>Summer School </strong></p> <p>Introduction to Interpretive Research Designs</p> <p>The Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences</p> <p>Expert Interviews for Qualitative Data Generation</p> <p>Field Research I and II [both of which take up political, policy, and organizational ethnography]</p> <p>Analysing Discourse I and II&ndash;Analysing Politics: Theories, Methods and Applications</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winter School </strong></p> <p>Introduction to Qualitative-Interpretive Methods</p> <p>The Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences</p> <p>Interpretative Interviewing</p>

Recommended Courses to Cover After this One

<p><strong>Summer School</strong></p> <p>Analysing Discourse I and II&ndash; Analysing Politics: Theories, Methods and Applications</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Winter School</strong></p> <p>Writing Ethnographic and Other Qualitative-Interpretive Research: Learning Inductively</p>


Additional Information

Disclaimer

This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.