The Final Workshop of the GURN Online Methods School 2020: Discourse Analysis in Social Sciences

On December 17 and 18, 2020, the final part of the GURN Methods School took place on the topic of discourse analysis. It is an empirical approach to examine a set of state­ments that can be assigned to the same field of knowledge in order to find out how a certain topic is negotiated within a society and how this affects the formation of public opinion. During the workshop, special emphasis was placed on approaches that are often used for the analysis of political discourse and are partic­u­larly in demand among academics in Ukraine today.

The experts from the German Institute for Inter­na­tional and Security Affairs

The workshop was led by Belinda Nüssel and Minna Ålander. Both currently work as research assis­tants for the German Institute for Inter­na­tional and Security Affairs (SWP) in the research depart­ments Eastern Europe/Eurasia and EU/Europe. Nüssel is mainly inter­ested in the consti­tution and genealogy of conspiracy theories in post-Soviet countries, and Ålander researches the EU’s neigh­bourhood policy with a focus on the South Caucasus as well as de facto states in the post-Soviet space.

Discourse analysis as a quali­tative research method

On the first day of the workshop the focus was on general questions: What is a discourse and why can it be useful to conduct a discourse analysis? The strategy and the necessary steps were discussed as well as the different types with a special emphasis on social science approaches. The programme during the second session was much more practical. In small groups, the partic­i­pants conducted their own discourse analyses of selected texts about German-Ukrainian relations. Together with Nüssel and Ålander, the results were evaluated and then presented to the group. At the end of the seminar, the partic­i­pants were encouraged to always reflect on how their personal inter­pre­tation can influence the outcome of their quali­tative research.


The GURN Methods School is a series of online workshops with a focus on quali­tative research that took place in autumn 2020. In four thematic blocks, young researchers, most of whom work at Ukrainian think tanks, among other things learned to develop their own research design, to apply quali­tative methods such as process tracing, content/video analysis and inter­views, and to analyse political discourses from a social science perspective.

The project “German Ukrainian Researchers Network” (GURN) aims at estab­lishing a German-Ukrainian research network for junior and senior researchers and their organ­i­sa­tions, strength­ening country expertise and promoting joint cooper­ation projects. GURN is conducted in close cooper­ation with the Ilko Kucheriv Democ­ratic Initia­tives Foundation (DIF, Kyiv), the think tank devel­opment and research initiative think twice UA(Kyiv), the New Europe Center (NEC, Kyiv) and is kindly supported by the Federal Foreign Office.