content analysis

(noun) Systematic analysis of forms of communication to identify and study patterns and themes.


  1. Analyzing birthday cards to understand age norms.
  2. Reading men’s fitness magazines to discover patterns in their portrayals of men.
  3. Recording conversations between physicians and patients  to discern the relations of power between the two parties.
  4. Watching various television shows from different eras to determine how minorities are depicted.

Audio Pronunciation: (con·tent a·nal·y·sis)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: content analyses
  • Content analysis provides a way to investigate what people say, see, hear, and write.
  • Content analysis can help identify underlying biases, intents, and meanings.
  • Any time of of communication can be analyzed and are referred to as artifacts. Examples include art, books, magazines, movies, television shows, textbooks, and websites.
  • There are numerous specialized types of content analysis such as ethnographic content analysis and qualitative content analysis.

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Works Consulted

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Babbie, Earl. 2013. The Practice of Social Research. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Brinkerhoff, David, Lynn White, Suzanne Ortega, and Rose Weitz. 2011. Essentials of Sociology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bryman, Alan. 2012. Social Research Methods. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ferrante, Joan. 2011. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Kendall, Diane. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Marsh, Ian, and Mike Keating, eds. 2006. Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) Routledge Handbooks Online. (

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (

Wiley. (N.d.) Wiley Online Library. (


How to Cite the Definition of Content Analysis

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “content analysis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 16, 2018 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

content analysis. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “content analysis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 16, 2018.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“content analysis.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2018. <>.