Session 12

SMUSI_12- How Modality Matters? Learning from the Multiplicity of (Non-)Digital Discourse Analytical Approaches

Digital tools offer a useful and supportive addition in analysis and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data. Especially Discourse analysis gets enriched by features offered by Qualitative Data Analysis tools. Topic modeling, co-occurrence analysis, sentiment analysis or visualizations of quantified discourses and patterns offer insights into discourse and knowledge production, show trends and conjunctures, in the distributions of the usage of words over time. In recent years an increasing effort to develop new tools and features for digital discourse analysis can be recognized. But existing digital tools for qualitative data analysis still often fail to address the multiplicity of dossiers, specified need of different applied methodologies and theories, as well as hermeneutic processes and individual working modes of researchers in their approaches to discourse analysis. Therefore, this session asks for what digital or analogue approaches to discourse analysis, which tools and features, prove to be useful or lack in their functionalities regarding the diverse range of methodological concepts, used dossiers, and various working modes. Established methodological programs around the concept of discourse analysis differ in their approaches on a global scale regarding the regional focus as well as in the different research fields and departments. Approaches to the study of discourses reach from critical discourse analysis to historical discourse analysis, discourse theories, discourse linguistics, visual discourse analysis, or the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse.1 The programs refer to a variety of basic literature and differ widely in the choice of material used – from Foucault to Habermas, from handwritten archival historical archival records, to newspapers, interviews, images, and social media interaction. While the many different methodological approaches and research questions need adapted approaches and specific digital solutions, existing all-in-one-tools seem to not suit well for such complex purposes, resulting in researchers using collages of different technical approaches, tools, and features to address the need for individualized solutions for digital analysis and visualizations. Most digital tools are specialized in linguistic analyses, often focused on digital solutions for quantitative analyses, counting words and detecting patterns. Digital features for the analysis and interpretation of multimodal ‘data’ and non-linguistic discourses like images are still only rarely supported and in need of further development. Visualities prove to be influential components in the order of knowledge and knowledge production, as they contribute to the formation of social meaning and collective processes of solidarity and memory making.2 Such discursive productions of visual and ‘affective publics’ and collective solidarities using textual and visual material to form discourses are central processes in the construction of social realities.3 Therefore, questions arise on how to digitally analyze and visualize multimodal qualitative data, the changing use of visuals, materialities, or semantic attributions, the construction of social collectives in discourses or the discursive use of emotions. How can the use of non-linguistic discourses and appropriated social values and ethics in communicatively constructed media arrangements be analyzed analogue or with digital tools? Solutions to address these issues become especially urgent with increasing mass discourse production and reception in social media where mediated discourse interaction is increasingly combining texts, images and moving pictures. Such complex combinations of text-image-video in discourse interaction representing multimodal social realities are pushing the limits of digital tools which are struggling to adapt to these complex requests. This panel invites contributions on discourse analytical approaches on multimodal data from different fields, actors and locations that address the methodological challenges of a diverse range of digital discourse analytical approaches presenting different approaches to linguistic and non-linguistic discourse analysis with or without solutions from digital humanities. The panel organizers want to encourage the participation of a bandwidth of presentations on methodological challenges in analysis processes, use of tools and features regarding analysis, interpretation, and visualizations, as it is particularly interested in bringing together these examinations of analogue and digital research processes for a critical exchange and insights on the broad diversity of discourse analysis, its possibilities, limits, and future outcome. The discussion should include a methodological problem and may include the challenge of analyzing qualitative data analysis regarding big data, the pitfalls of the combined use of quantitative and qualitative analysis with digital tools, the use of multimodal data, or the applicability of transdisciplinary work in digital or manual discourse analysis and interpretation of data. Questions can be asked on the special needs of decisive discourse analytical approaches. What does a critical discourse analytical approach focusing on linguistics in contrast to a visual discourse analysis or a sociological approach, focusing on the construction of social reality through discourse? How can a methodological approach meaningfully combine manual and digital analytical methods in qualitative and quantitative social and cultural research, facilitating the epistemological reflection on relevance and validity of the gathered data and the hermeneutic processes? Which tools and features are experienced as useful or challenging, supporting, or distracting the research process? How can the human research be enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning, pushing the creative and hermeneutic processes, supporting establishing new questions, directions and reflections on the material collection, analysis, and interpretation of its research object? How can artificial intelligence brought into focus again to support the user and the process of discourse analysis with digital solutions, algorithms, and artificial intelligence?