The Final Workshop of the GURN Online Methods School 2020: Discourse Analysis in Social Sciences
On December 17 and 18, 2020, the final part of the GURN Methods School took place on the topic of discourse analysis. It is an empirical approach to examine a set of statements that can be assigned to the same field of knowledge in order to find out how a certain topic is negotiated within a society and how this affects the formation of public opinion. During the workshop, special emphasis was placed on approaches that are often used for the analysis of political discourse and are particularly in demand among academics in Ukraine today.
The experts from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs
The workshop was led by Belinda Nüssel and Minna Ålander. Both currently work as research assistants for the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in the research departments Eastern Europe/Eurasia and EU/Europe. Nüssel is mainly interested in the constitution and genealogy of conspiracy theories in post-Soviet countries, and Ålander researches the EU’s neighbourhood policy with a focus on the South Caucasus as well as de facto states in the post-Soviet space.
Discourse analysis as a qualitative research method
On the first day of the workshop the focus was on general questions: What is a discourse and why can it be useful to conduct a discourse analysis? The strategy and the necessary steps were discussed as well as the different types with a special emphasis on social science approaches. The programme during the second session was much more practical. In small groups, the participants conducted their own discourse analyses of selected texts about German-Ukrainian relations. Together with Nüssel and Ålander, the results were evaluated and then presented to the group. At the end of the seminar, the participants were encouraged to always reflect on how their personal interpretation can influence the outcome of their qualitative research.
The GURN Methods School is a series of online workshops with a focus on qualitative research that took place in autumn 2020. In four thematic blocks, young researchers, most of whom work at Ukrainian think tanks, among other things learned to develop their own research design, to apply qualitative methods such as process tracing, content/video analysis and interviews, and to analyse political discourses from a social science perspective.
The project “German Ukrainian Researchers Network” (GURN) aims at establishing a German-Ukrainian research network for junior and senior researchers and their organisations, strengthening country expertise and promoting joint cooperation projects. GURN is conducted in close cooperation with the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF, Kyiv), the think tank development and research initiative think twice UA(Kyiv), the New Europe Center (NEC, Kyiv) and is kindly supported by the Federal Foreign Office.