Cultural insight: discourse analysis

Discourse Analysis has a long history. It began in Linguistics (specifically a branch of Linguistics called ‘Pragmatics’) and has since then been refined and developed by psychologists and anthropologists.

In essence, it is qualitative analysis of texts to reveal how ideas and topics are expressed in mass communication – also called ‘the public discourse’.

When conducted side by side with in-person qualitative research, the analysis may reveal differences between the public’s own ways of understanding a topic and the organisation’s – or market’s – understanding.

How to use Discourse Analysis in customer, stakeholder and user research

Three ways that Discourse Analysis can be used in customer, stakeholder and user research

  1. Top-down cultural analysis of a broad range of written material such as websites.

  2. Bottom up analysis of specific written information such as media and corporate communications, and

  3. Bottom-up analysis of spoken information, such as qualitative research interviews, or consultation conversations.

How we have used Discourse Analysis in customer, stakeholder and user research

  • What does ‘freshness’ mean in contemporary culture?

  • How do people talk about Christmas and has that changed over time?

  • How is ‘retirement’ framed in Australian public discourse?

  • Defining the voice of an organisation

  • Analysing conversations .

Tags: Semiotics, Discourse Analysis, Ethnography, Hybrid methods, Language, Ethnosemantics