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Ethnic Minorities of Central and Eastern Europe in the Internet Space

A Computer-Assisted Content Analysis

Olga Alekseeva and Hans-Georg Heinrich

After the EU-accession of Eastern and Central European countries, the nations and ethnicities in this region face a re-definition of their cultural, social and political roles. Ethnic Minorities of Central and Eastern Europe in the Internet Space deals with the identity formation of twelve ethnic minorities in seven countries along the border of the European Union. Ethnicities in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia as well as Belarus and Ukraine are considered. The project attempts a new methodological approach to the topic of ethnic identity through a qualitative and quantitative content analysis of the internet resources attributable to ethnic minorities. It consists of two larger parts: the methodology of data collection and the results of data analysis. The data bank of the internet resources provides an overview of the empirical basis of the study.
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Part I: Methodology

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The research design of the study applies the method of qualitative and quantitative content analysis, as it is based on categories according to which the data sample is collected and analyzed (see Titscher et al 73-92; Früh 1989: 126ff.). As work progresses, the initially conceived categories are constantly developed and revised in the light of the empirical material. They are “grounded” in the text corpus: the oscillation and the mutual feedback between theoretical concepts and empirical text materials have been condensed in what has been dubbed Grounded Theory (see Titscher et al 92-107; Strauss/Corbin 1990: 418ff.).

The three phases of research consisting of data collection, data analysis and theory generation form a process which we regard as closed and open at the same time. The inductive approach does not mean an uncontrolled procedure because it is guided and restricted by the research question and the predefined research categories. But at the same time, the research process is open because the selection/combination of keywords for search engines is freely chosen and the study of the internet data allows constant building of new and verification of old categories. The categories emerging in the process are the “bricks” in the theoretical corpus that can be extended and deepened by creating new categories.

1. Internet data collection

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