Qualitative Content Analysis and Historical Research

  • Melanie Werner Technische Hochschule Köln
Keywords: 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


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.


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Author Biography

Melanie Werner, Technische Hochschule Köln

Melanie WERNER ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an der Fakultät für Angewandte Sozialwissenschaften der Technischen Hochschule Köln und Stipendiatin im Mathilde-von-Mevissen Programm. Sie promoviert zurzeit zum Verhältnis von frühen Theorieansätzen Sozialer Arbeit zu sozialen Bewegungen an der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.

How to Cite
Werner, M. (2020). Qualitative Content Analysis and Historical Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-21.1.3419
Relationships Between Qualitative Content Analysis and Other Methods