Metaphor analysis – how it works with QDA software

Our language is full of figurative expressions, that is “clear as dumplings”! Metaphor analysis is dedicated to the systematic analysis of these images. In this article, we address all those who already have a rough insight into methaphor analysis, but are wondering how to implement this concretely with QDA software.

There are various approaches to metaphor analysis that we cannot go into individually. However, the overarching challenge is always to identify metaphors within a text, mark them, structure them (semantically, thematically, or by source and target), and finally summarize them into concepts.

This can be done with paper and pencil or with software support. We demonstrate it here with a text example from Jan Kruse, Kay Biesel, Christian Schmieder: Metaphor Analysis. A Reconstructive Approach (2011). A detailed elaboration on the material described here has been done by Christian Schmieder (2007). In it you can see how the result can look like then.

In this example we are concerned with the necessary technical steps and suggestions on how to use the functions of f4analysis. Important methodological steps such as clarifying the target area are deliberately omitted here, for such questions please consult the relevant methodological literature..

Step 1: Identify and mark metaphors

Even if the term code does not belong to metaphor analysis, this is exactly the function in f4analysis we use in this step: we create a new code called “Identified metaphors”. This is initially our collection area for all identified metaphors. We assign all metaphors in question to this code.

The result of this step is a text in which the metaphors are underlined. We are always amazed at how many metaphors are used in a normal conversation.

Step 2: Describe and summarize metaphors

In the tab “Selection” you can now see all marked text passages after clicking on “Identified metaphors”.

We now create subcodes for the individual metaphors. As name of the subcodes we already use a description with the structure “X is Y” or “X does Y”, e.g. “fertilization is a meeting”. Since these descriptions are often rather preliminary, we note ideas in the comment field of this subcode. We sort metaphors that have commonalities (same source and target) together into a subcode.

Step 3: Completing / reconstructing the metaphors

Then we open the subcodes in the “Selection” tab. Here we now see all the assigned text passages and can describe the images they contain in more detail, summarize them and, if necessary, think them through further.

Step 4: Interpretation of the metaphorical concepts

A wide variety of questions are posed to the material here: What does the metaphor fade out? What connotation does the metaphoric bring? Where do the concepts collide? Where are they coherent? etc.

This can be done wonderfully in the tab “Selection”, where you can see all assigned text passages listed. For the comparison of two metaphorical concepts you can use the “Selection A/B” and put two concepts next to each other. betrachten.

Literature for further reading:

Kruse, Jan; Biesel, Kay; Schmieder, Christian (2011): Metaphor Analysis. Ein rekonstruktiver Ansatz, VS Verlag. – A description of the method in a narrower sense can be found here on pp. 93 ff. The approach presented in this work is one method of metaphor analysis among many.

Kruse, Jan; Biesel, Kay; Schmieder, Christian (2012): Review: A Replica of: Schmitt, Rudolf (2011). Review essay: reconstructive and other metaphor analyses [39 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(2), art. 10. Here is a discussion of the method.

Schmieder, Christian; Biesel, Kay (2016): Metaphor analysis as a reconstructive method. An introduction for nursing science. In: Hülsken-Giesler, Manfred; Kreutzer, Susanne; Dütthorn, Nadin (Eds.): Reconstructive Casework in Nursing. Methodological reflections and practical relevance for nursing science, nursing education and direct care. Osnabrück. Pp. 131-161. – In this work one can find another practical example.

Schmitt, Rudolf (2011): Review Essay: reconstructive and other metaphor analyses [50 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1), art. 2.

Schmitt, Rudolf; Schröder, Julia; Pfaller Larissa (2018): Systematic metaphor analysis. An introduction. Springer VS. – This is a systematic overview.

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