"Quantitative Narrative Analysis": l'application des méthodes quantitatives à l'analyse qualitative du contenu par le recours à des théories linguistiques de grammaire générative


Séminaire non résidentiel

8 et 9 décembre 2011, Université de Genève

Module de formation mis sur pied en collaboration avec le Programme doctoral en science politique

*Délai d'inscription: 15 novembre 2011*


Sous la conduite du professeur Robert Franzosi, Department of Sociology, Emory University, Atlanta

Organisation: Lucio Baccaro, professeur ordinaire, Département de Sociologie, Université de Genève





Organization of the workshop

The workshop will be organized as a mixture of formal lectures and lab work based on PC-ACE (Program for Computer-Assisted Coding of Events; available for free download at www.pc-ace.com).

Thursday 8 december, 9:15-10:30 am, M5020

Narrative and QNA
Thursday 8 december, 10:30-10:45 amCoffee break
Thursday 8 december, 10:45-12:15 am, M5020Narrative and QNA
Thursday 8 december, 12:15-14:00 pmLunch
Thursday 8 december, 14:00-16:00 pm, M4290LAB work with PC-ACE
Tursday 8 december, 16:00-16:15 pmCoffee break
Thursday 8 december, 16:15-17:00 pm, M5020Questions and discussions
Friday 9 december, 9:15-10:00 am, PM04 (Pavillon Mail)What can you do with QNA
Friday 9 december, 10:00-10:15 amCoffee break
Friday 9 december, 10:15-12:15 am, M4290LAB work with PC-ACE
Friday 9 december, 12:15-14:00 pmLunch
Friday 9 december, 14:00-16:00 pm, M4290LAB work with PC-ACE
Friday 9 december, 16:00-16:15 pmCoffee break
Friday 9 december, 16:15-17:00 pm, M5220Closing statement







Workshop description

Quantitative Narrative Analysis or QNA is a methodological approach to texts that allows researchers to structure the information contained in narrative texts in ways that make possible a statistical analysis of the information. The approach exploits the invariant linguistic structural properties of narrative (namely, the chronological sequential order of narrative clauses and their simple linguistic structure SVO, or Subject-Verb-Object. In narrative, Subjects are typically social actors, Verbs are social actions, and Objects are either social actors or physical objects. Each SVO element can also have attributes, namely, the characteristics of both Subject and Object, such as the name, organization, or type of actor, and the circumstances of action, such as time and space, or reason and outcome. The SVO and their attributes provide an invariant structure of narrative also known as “story grammar,” roughly corresponding to the 5 W’s and H of journalism (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How).


Unfortunately, a story grammar approach to texts is too complex for a pencil and paper environment. It requires the aid of computer software. The workshop will show how to carry out QNA in PC-ACE (PC-ACE, Program for Computer-Assisted Coding of Events), a program specifically designed for QNA. When implemented in a computer environment in a relational database system, a story grammar allows researchers to collect narrative information from perhaps thousands of narratives. The comparative analysis of the elements of these thousands of narratives can then be carried out with the help of cutting-edge network and Geographic Information System tools – tools fundamentally based on actors, actions, time, and space. The approach thus combines quality and quantity, the narrative depth of case studies and the generalization afforded by large numbers.


To illustrate the power of the approach, data from two of the course convener’s projects will be used: 1. the rise of Italian fascism (1919-1922) (50,000 newspaper articles coded yielding some 250,000 SVO clauses); 2. lynching in Georgia (1875-1930) (1,300 articles coded for some 8,000 clauses). These differences in the scope of a project amenable to QNA show that QNA can be carried out effectively with projects that are appropriate for a doctoral dissertation without necessarily the help of a team of coders. The illustrations also show that QNA is ideally suited for the study of conflict and violence as taken from newspaper articles (or police reports), since these types of articles are fundamentally narrative. But other types of social problems and texts can be investigated (e.g., children bestselling books, advertisements, blogs, in-depth interviews) for as long as these texts contain at least some stories.


In the workshop, participants will learn the difference between narrative texts and other types of texts (e.g., analytical or scientific). It is these texts that expose the limits of QNA, since they do not possess the invariant properties of a “story grammar” (or of the 5 W’s & H). To overcome these limits, more traditional approaches to textual analysis popular in the social sciences will be considered: content analysis and frame analysis. In both cases, however, the fundamental principle of QNA will be stressed: Relations! Relations! Relations!




Suggested readings


On (Quantitative) Narrative Analysis


Franzosi, R. In press. “On Quantitative Narrative Analysis.” In: James Holstein and Jay Gubrium (eds.), Varieties of Narrative Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Franzosi, R. In press. “Quantitative Narrative Analysis.” In: Malcolm Williams and Paul Vogt (eds.), Sage Handbook of Methodological Innovation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Franzosi, R. 2011. “Narratives and Networks: Mapping Social Relations during Revolutionary Periods.” Politics & Society. Revise & Resubmit.

Franzosi, R. G. De Fazio, S. Vicari. 2011. “Ways of Measuring Agency and Action: An Application of Quantitative Narrative Analysis to Lynchings in Jim Crow South.” To be sumbitted to Sociological Methodology.

Franzosi, R., S. Doyle, L. McClelland, C. Putnam Rankin, S. Vicari. 2011.Quantitative Narrative Analysis Software Options Compared: PC-ACE and CAQDAS (ATLAS.ti, MAXqda, and NVivo)” Sociological Methods and Research. Revise & Resubmit.

Franzosi, R. 2010. Quantitative Narrative Analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Franzosi, R. 2010. “Sociology, Narrative, and the Quality versus Quantity Debate (Newton versus Goethe).” Theory & Society, Vol. 39, No. 6, pp. 593-629.

Franzosi, R. 2004. From words to numbers: Narrative, Data and Social Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Franzosi, R. 1998. “Narrative Analysis - Why (And How) Sociologists Should Be Interested in Narrative,” In: pp. 517-54, John Hagan (ed.), The Annual Review of Sociology, Palo Alto: Annual Reviews.

Franzosi, R. 1989. “From Words to Numbers: A Generalized and Linguistics‑Based Coding Procedure for Collecting Event‑Data from Newspapers.” In: pp. 263–98, Clifford Clogg (ed.), Sociological Methodology, Vol. 19, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Franzosi, R. 1998. “Narrative as Data. Linguistic and Statistical Tools for the Quantitative Study of Historical Events.” Special issue of International Review of Social History. “New Methods in Historical Sociology/Social History” Marcel van der Linden and Larry Griffin (eds.), Vol. 43, pp. 81–104.

Franzosi, R. 1999. “The Return of the Actor. Networks of Interactions among Social Actors during Periods of High Mobilization (Italy, 1919–22).” Special issue of Mobilization, Ruud Koopmans and Dieter Rucht (eds.), Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 131–49.

On Content Analysis


Franzosi, R. 2004. “Content Analysis”. In: pp. 547–66, Alan Bryman and Melissa Hardy (eds.), Handbook of Data Analysis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Franzosi, R. 2007. “Introduction”. In: Roberto Franzosi (ed.), Content Analysis. Benchmarks in Social Research Methods series (Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences). 4 vols. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Variable versus Narrative Explanations


Abbott, Andrew. 1990. “Conceptions of Time and Events in Social Science Methods.” Historical Methods, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 140-50.

1992. “From Causes to Events: Notes on Narrative Positivism.” Sociological Methods and Research, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 428-55.

Abell, Peter. 2004. “Narrative Explanation: An Alternative to Variable-Centred Explanation?” Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 30, pp. 287-310.