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Research design and methods

Selection of the newsmagazines

The selected newsmagazines are (i) Time from the US, (ii) The Economist from the UK, (iii) L’Express from France, and (iv) Der Spiegel from Germany. The selection of these newsmagazines is primarily based on the large circulation volumes in their countries and their popularity around the world. The political orientation and ideological stances (liberal or conservative) of the selected newsmagazines were not top priority criteria for their selection. The corpus of this study comprises the headlines of 80 articles, with 20 from each of the four Western newsmagazines.

Time period under study

News reports on China were based on a 12-month period in 2010. This also means that the selected news articles were related to China’s international economy and trade war with its trading partners, published from January to December of 2010.

Purposive-representative sampling

Purposive-representative sampling is employed in this study. This is because it is simply unrealistic to analyse all the articles relating to China published in the four Western newsmagazines. As Seale (2017, p. 156) reasoned, the participants, events, or incidents are selected ‘on the basis of having a significant relation to the research topic’ when using purposive-representative sampling. The keywords include ‘China’, ‘economy’, and ‘trade’.

CDA application I: Van Dijk’s macro-rules

The first part of the methodological framework is based on the application of Van Dijk’s (1980, pp. 46-50) macro-rules to determine the global meaning of a given text. This is also known as the topic of the text, as it summarises the gist and the semantic information of the text. To comprehend the texts, readers must rely on their cognitive operations to arrive at the semantic macro-structures of the text. According to Van Dijk (1980, pp. 46-50), the cognitive operations include (i) deletion, (ii) generalisation, (iii) construction, and (iv) zero rule. Macro-rules are also recursive, which means they can be applied repeatedly to organise global meanings into still higher-level global meanings.

 
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