Qualitative Research

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To compare themes generated from popular music lyrics using inductive content analysis.

SOC200 Research Methods in Social Sciences

Assignment 4 – Content Analysis

Objective: To compare themes generated from popular music lyrics using inductive content analysis.


1. Read the Qualitative Research lecture slides found on Canvas.

2. Choose a musical genre and at least 3 artists from that genre.

3. Conduct open coding by generating at least 10 “themes” that appear in the lyrics. For example, “love and heartbreak” is a

theme often seen in classic rock music. Themes are more than just one word, use phrases.

Musical Genre:













4. Conduct axial coding by examining relationships between the themes. For example, “love and heartbreak” is often associated

with “alcohol use to deal with problems”. Generate at least 5 relationships that you seen between themes.

Relationships between themes:






5. Conduct selective coding by seeing if the themes/relationships generated in step 4 above are seen in another genre of music.

List at least 5 similarities and differences in your new genre.

New Genre:






6. Write a two page summary of your results. In your opinion, how effective was content analysis in learning more about lyrics

as a cultural artifact? Please submit one document with the above worksheet and your summary to Canvas.


The best way to view my lecture slides is to enter “slideshow mode” and progress through them by pressing the space bar. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Research Methods

A brief introduction to qualitative research

Today’s goals:

To get a brief introduction into qualitative analysis.

To compare the types of questions that qualitative and quantitative approaches answers.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research – methods rely heavily on in-depth verbal descriptions of a particular social context being studied

Often called interpretive research

Qualitative researchers:

spend a great deal of time in the settings being studied (fieldwork)

rely on themselves as the main instrument of data collection (subjectivity; intersubjectivity)

…analyze data using interpretative lenses

In Summary

Qualitative Quantitative
Non-probability based sample Typically a probability-based sample
Non-generalizable Generalizable
Answers What? How? Answers How many? When? Where?
Exploratory (often inductive) Tests hypotheses
Data are “rich” and time-consuming to analyze Data are more efficient, but may miss contextual detail


Covert vs. Overt Participant Observation


Pearson (2009
) examined the behavior of fans of Blackpool FC

Khan (2011) assessed the lifestyle of students at elite high schools

Sudhir Venkatesh


Research Focus: to learn more about the daily life of Chicago street gangs in the 1990’s

Content analysis

Content Analysis – collection and analysis of data from cultural artifacts

Cultural artifacts – anything that gives information about a particular culture

Written documents, visual media, social media, conversation transcripts etc.

Cultural artifacts can be subject to the same research scrutiny as individuals, schools, corporations, etc.


Coding – process of identifying key themes in data and drawing conclusions about said themes

Three processes of coding:

Open – reviewing all data and identifying common themes

Axial – examining relationships between different themes

Selective – gathering additional data (cultural artifacts) to see if the relationships found in the axial stage are supported

Coding Example

Purpose: to compare lyrics of popular musical artists using inductive content analysis

Gather into groups and choose a musical genre whose lyrics you want to examine.

Each member should choose an artist from that genre and find the lyrics to their songs.

Example Genre: Classic Rock

Artists: Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones

Coding Example


Purpose: to compare lyrics of popular musical artists using inductive content analysis

Part I – Open Coding (10 mins)

Generate 5-10 “themes” that appear in the lyrics noting specific lyrics as examples

Each coder should generate a few themes.

Example theme: “Love and Heartbreak”

Led Zeppelin:

Well it’s been ten years and maybe more since I first set eyes on you, the best years of my life gone by, here I am alone and blue

Assignment 6 – In-Class Activity


Purpose: to compare lyrics of popular musical artists using inductive content analysis

Part II – Axial Coding (5 mins)

Examine the themes for relationships (e.g., do different themes occur together more often?)

Example: Love and Heartbreak tends to be associated with resentment towards romantic partner

One thing I do have on my mind, if you can clarify please do, it’s the way you call me by another guy’s name when I try to make love to you

And if I ever find that girl I know one thing for sure, I’m gonna give her something like she never had before. – Hot Dog

Sixteen I fell in love, with a girl as sweet as could be; only took a couple of days
Till she was rid of me. –Good Times, Bad Times

Had a friend, she once told me, “You got love, you ain’t lonely“, Now she’s gone and left me only looking for what I knew. –Friends

I open my front door, hear my back door slam, you must have one of them new fangled back door man – Since I’ve Been Loving You

Silent woman through the flames, you come From the deep behind the sun 
Seems my nightmares, have just begun, Left me barely holding on. – The Wanton Song

Coding Example


Purpose: to compare lyrics of popular musical artists using inductive content analysis

Part III – Selective Coding (5 mins)

Choose one new artist of the same genre. Each group member should pick a different song from this artist.

Do any of the themes show up in the new artist’s lyrics?

Example: Beatles’ Run For Your Life

You better run for your life if you can little girl, hide your head in the sand little girl. Find you with another man, that’s the end, little girl.


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