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Discourse analysis in social sciences – Methods school

Mucahiddin / IStock
Mucahiddin / IStock

The final part of the GURN Methods School 2020 took place on the topic of discourse analysis. The participants examined political discourses and reflected on their role as researchers in the interpretation of results.

Discourse analysis is an empirical method for examining a set of statements in order to find out how a certain topic is negotiated within a society and how this affects the formation of public opinion. In the workshop, special emphasis was placed on approaches that are often used in the analysis of political discourses and are particularly in demand among academics in Ukraine today.

The workshop on 17 and 18 December 2020 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 areas Eastern Europe/Eurasia and EU/Europe, respectively. 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 and de facto states in the post-Soviet space.

The first day of the workshop focused on general questions: What is discourse and why can it be helpful to conduct a discourse analysis? The approach and the necessary steps were discussed as well as the different types of the procedure with a special focus on social science approaches. The programme during the second session was much more practical. In small groups, the participants conducted their own discourse analyses on selected texts on 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 be aware of how each personal interpretation can influence the results of qualitative research.

The Methods School took place within the framework of the project "German Ukrainian Researchers Network" (GURN 1, 2019-2020) and was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

About the GURN – German Ukrainian Researchers Network project: The cooperation between think tanks and politics are strengthened. GURN focuses on knowledge transfer, capacity building and bilateral dialogue. Current developments and German-Ukrainian relations are discussed in a variety of formats.

Image copyright: Mucahiddin / IStock, Pixabay