Content analysis

The fourth line of inquiry into the ACIA process was the analyses of the ACIA reports. For the scientific and overview document, the purpose was to capture different issues as they appeared in the final product of the scientific assessment and thus how the assessment itself had chosen to present its results to a wider audience. This relates back to process documentation, observations, and interviews in that these sources of information are used to understand the drivers behind patterns that become apparent in the content analysis. The content analysis also provides a control of how strong the influence of various drivers has been among those identified during the process. In other words, to what extent do issues come to the fore in the final product compared to animated discussions that were underway? What solutions appeared to problems that were identified? Together with interviews with the lead authors, the content analysis also captures some of the dynamics in writing a chapter of a scientific assessment that did not come out in discussions of the reports as a whole.

The methodological details of the analysis are discussed in Chapter 6 of this dissertation. In general, the approach was to combine qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative analysis focused on answering key questions about major framings and the knowledge bases for each of the chapters in the scientific report and to identify possible drivers as they were visible in the reports. The quantitative analysis was based on counting how often certain words were used in the various chapters. For the quantitative analysis, some comparisons were also made with the third assessment reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The qualitative content analysis of the policy document was guided by discourse analysis laid out by Fairclogh, with a range of questions about what characterizes the text. 23 This includes questions about the social event and genre in which the text is positioned. It also includes asking how the text can be characterized in how it approaches differences, what assumptions it makes, the mood of the text, what discourses and styles it draws from, and what social events are included or excluded. The original purpose of the methodology is to provide a tool for critical social research that highlights how societies work and produce both beneficial and detrimental effects.24 My use of this methodology is more limited and can more be described as a guided systematic reading of a specific document, where the text in focus is only one component of the empirical material. The method is relevant in that it illuminates the connection between knowledge and discourses, which fits well into the role of the policy document as the device by which ACIA's knowledge base (the scientific report) became connected to the policy sphere.

23 Norman Fairclough, Analyzing Discourse. Textual Analysis for Social Research (London: Routledge, 2003), 191-194.

24 Fairclough, Analyzing Discourse, 203.

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