Qualitative Content Analysis and Historical Research

Melanie Werner


In this article I discuss how qualitative content analysis can be used in historical research projects with a large amount of text. As an exemplary application I describe the methodical approach I use in my PhD research, which is about the relationships between early theories of social work and social movements. From a system theoretical point of view, I consider social movements and theories of social work as systems of communications, which can be described and compared according to their specific semantics. I reconstruct these semantics by analyzing how the words "Nation" and "Volk" are used in magazines of the labor movement, the youth movement and women's liberation on the one hand and the theories of Alice SALOMON, Herman NOHL and Carl MENNICKE on the other hand. Therefore I combine techniques of qualitative content analysis with quantitative approaches as well as methods of reconstructing concepts of meanings. In this article, I describe the methodology of my thesis, its implementation, and challenges in research practice.


qualitative content analysis; quantitative content analysis; MAXQDA; concepts of meaning; analysis of metaphors; historical semantics; systems theory; social movements; social work; the Weimar Republic; the German Reich; the German Empire

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-21.1.3419

Copyright (c) 2020 Melanie Werner

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