Roberto Franzosi

Approcci linguistici e sociologici all'analisi strutturale della narrativa. L'uso della narrativa nella ricerca storico-sociale

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The paper shows how Halliday's theory of language and process types can be used to construct powerful coding schemes that can be profitably used to collect and analyze narrative data in socio-historical research. Indeed, the analyses of large volumes of data collected by the author from newspapers show that a computerized coding scheme based on Halliday's framework provides meaningful answers to historical questions about the rise of Italian fascism. These coding schemes are far more rigorous than traditional content analysis schemes, since they are based on linguistic, invariant properties of texts, rather than on the substantive/theoretical interests of investigators. Furthermore, they preserve much of the richness of information and of narrative flavor of the original text. Despite these advantages, linguistics-based coding schemes are not without problems: they work well for narrative types of text only, and even within narrative, they cannot easily capture description or analysis and evaluation. The paper also briefly outlines both the linguistic and sociological approaches to the study of narrative. While linguists have approached narrative in search of invariant structural linguistic properties of narrative (story/plot, sequence, story points, coherence, 5 Ws), sociologists have looked at specific instances of narrative texts (e.g., newspaper articles of protest events, biographies, letters) in search of patterns of social relations and historical behavior.

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