An Alternative Model for the Operationalization of Discourse Theory of Laclau and Mouffe

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Peter Bakumov


The present article provides an alternative model for qualitative studies based on the discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, with special emphasis on computer-based analysis. The model may be used for empirical research and analysis of large data corpora. The model offers a mixed-method approach of operationalization, an alternative to existing approaches, combining a quantitative coding stage and a qualitative interpretation stage. First, a list of key signifiers is obtained from open coding of the existing secondary literature on the topic. Second, the key signifiers compose a case research matrix, which includes the list of key signifiers, the word cloud (thesaurus), and subcodes. The case research matrix establishes frameworks for the computer-assisted analysis of the data corpus. Third, the use of the key signifiers in the data corpus is structured using the conceptual framework of Laclau and Mouffe. If the need arises, the case research matrix is updated with the secondary codes and the previous steps are repeated. Fourth, the interpretation process occurs hermeneutically, with emphasis on contextualized self-interpretations. The provided model should fill the gзp in the variety of operationalization approaches designed for qualitative studies in which, for methodological reasons, lexicometric analysis cannot be applied. The application of the model is presented on the example of a case from the field of historical sociology studying the ideological alignment of far-right movements in interwar Switzerland.

Article in English


Discourse Theory, CAQDAS, Frontism, Laclau and Mouffe, Research Method

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