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MAXQDA11 Tip of the Month: Discourse Analysis with MAXQDA

The field of discourse analysis includes different approaches and methodologies. There is neither a unified theory on what discourse analysis actually is nor a certain method used to do research on it. Within the Social Sciences it’s often interesting to find out how symbolic orders, rules and regularities impact the social construction of reality.

Due to the fact that discourses include spoken and written expressions, as well as visual representations, it is helpful to use software like MAXQDA that can handle different types of data, e.g. text documents, pictures and videos at once.

By structuring and analyzing the data you collected, MAXQDA can help you to avoid the confusing and often chaotic work with various sources.


Often there are different types of data that must be analysed within one discourse analysis. In many cases the data consists of written text documents like articles in newspapers or magazines, as well as different kinds of books, documentaries, transcribed spoken words and so forth. With MAXQDA, you can import any common kind of text documents and arrange your documents neatly. By doing so you don’t have to flip through all your paperwork anymore.

In order to keep track of your data, it’s useful to arrange your documents in document groups. Depending on your evaluation method, your Code System can be inspired by the categories you want to work with. If you want to work with interpretative methods, the Memo Function is helpful to explore discourse patterns in your data.

Diskursanalyse mit MAXQDA: Dokumentbrowser

Whether you work inductively or deductively (or both) – the Code-System will help you to categorize big amounts of data. If you do not want to order your codes hierarchically, you can use MAXMaps to visualize the relations between your codes.
Depending on the type of research question, there are several options to analyse your data. Quantitative aspects can be evaluated using the tools for (word-) frequencies and correlations. Potential overlaps in lines of discourse can be analysed with the help of the Code-Relation-Browser.

Diskursanalyse mit MAXQDA: Code-Relations

It’s useful to arrange your documents in different document groups to keep track of your data. Your code system can be inspired by the categories you want to work with (depending on the specific evaluation method you use). Memos are very important, especially if you use interpretative methods to analyze certain structures or discoursive rules in your data.


Discourse analysis usually looks at what’s “behind” the written or spoken words. In most cases, the focus is not only on language and what is said through it, but also the actions performed through language. Discourse analysis data may therefore include pictures or videos.

The MAXQDA multimedia player provides a solution to analyse visual and audio data without compromising on precision and accuracy. It enables you to either code your visual and audio data directly or transcribe the data first. Coding directly is especially relevant when analyzing visual or phonetic aspects.

Diskursanalyse mit MAXQDA: Multimedia


In order to compare classifications or categories among different kinds of data, you can use the Retrieved Segments Window. Just activate all relevant codes and documents as usual, and you will see an overview of all segments.

Diskursanalyse mit MAXQDA: Verschiedene Datensorten

MAXQDA’s broad range of tools enables every user to conduct his or her research with respect to individual habits and priorities. As the process of researching and analyzing a certain topic is always dependent on the research question, there is no common solution for the best computer-based analysis. One thing is however certain: especially when handling big amounts of texts, traditionally conducted text analysis can be exhausting and even imprecise.
Therefore MAXQDA is important software that can even be used for the most complex discourse analysis.

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