Summative Content Analysis as a Core Method to Reconstruct Subjective Theories Using Structure-Formation-Techniques

  • Katharina Kindermann
Keywords: qualitative content analysis, summative content analysis, Research Program Subjective Theories, subjective theories, structure formation techniques, concept cards, empirical educational research, (primary) school pedagogy, out-of-school learning


The Research Program Subjective Theories has for several decades been an integral part of qualitative social research in German-speaking countries. Nowadays, it is predominantly used in empirical educational research. Within the context of this research program, structure formation techniques were established as independent research methods. Structure formation techniques broadly work as follows. An interview is used to gain insights into the content of a subjective theory. These contents are recorded on concept cards and connected to one another. The result of this process is a structure map that serves as a visualization of the subjective theory and constitutes the central data source for follow-up analysis. Until today, however, structure formation techniques lack a clear methodical approach regarding the path from the interview to the concept cards. I intend to fill this gap. This contribution is based on my own research experience. I analyzed the subjective theories of primary school teachers regarding field trips to church. I argue that qualitative content analysis can be used to develop such a systematic approach. I therefore show the potential that a summarizing content analysis has for the research program subjective theories. At the same time, I illustrate the methodical consequences that arise from adapting content analysis to the context of structure formation techniques. Moreover, this can serve as inspiration for the further development of qualitative content analysis.


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Author Biography

Katharina Kindermann

Katharina KINDERMANN, Dr. phil., war von 2012 bis 2018 als wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Seminar für Katholische Theologie sowie am Department Erziehungswissenschaft und Psychologie der Universität Siegen tätig. Sie forschte dort zu den Effekten und Prozessen außerschulischen Lernens sowie zu den subjektiven Theorien von Lehrkräften über eben dieses pädagogische Konzept. Aktuell ist sie Lehrerin im Regierungsbezirk Unterfranken.

How to Cite
Kindermann, K. (2020). Summative Content Analysis as a Core Method to Reconstruct Subjective Theories Using Structure-Formation-Techniques. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(1).
Relationships Between Qualitative Content Analysis and Other Methods