You are here

Media Analysis Techniques

Media Analysis Techniques

Fourth Edition

June 2011 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
In the Fourth Edition of Media Analysis Techniques, author Arthur Asa Berger once again provides students with a clearly written, user-friendly, hands-on guide to media research methods and techniques. The book empowers readers to make their own analyses of the media rather than just accept how others interpret the media.

Media Analysis Techniques begins by examining four techniques of media interpretation—semiotic theory, Marxist theory, psychoanalytic theory, and sociological theory—that Berger considers critical for creative people to acknowledge if they are to understand how their creations translate to the real world. Application chapters then link popular culture to these four theories.

Written in an accessible style that demystifies complex concepts, it includes a glossary, study guides, and the author's own illustrations.

1. Semiotic Analysis
A Brief History of the Subject

The Problem of Meaning

Social Aspects of Semiotics: The Individual and Society

Saussure on the Science of Semiology


Forms of Signs

Signs and Advertising

Material Culture

Objects and Identity

Signs and Truth

Activities and Performances

Music and Sound Effects

Facial Expressions as Signs


Language and Speaking

Connotation and Denotation

The Synchronic and the Diachronic

Syntagmatic Analysis

Paradigmatic Analysis


Dialogical Theory

Metaphor And Metonymy


Semiotics of the Television Medium

Some Criticisms of Semiotic Analysis

A Checklist for Semiotic Analysis of Television

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

Annotated Bibliography

2. Marxist Analysis

The Base and the Superstructure

False Consciousness and Ideology

The Frankfurt School

Class Conflict


The Consumer Society

John Berger on Advertising

Bourgeois Heroes


The Problem of Media Consolidation

The Danger of Being Doctrinaire

Grid-Group Analysis

Mary Douglas and “Shopping”

Marxist Criticism in the Postmodern World

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

Annotated Bibliography

3. Psychoanalytic Criticism

The Unconscious


William A. Rossi on Sexual Aspects of the Foot and Shoe

The Oedipus Complex

On the Importance of Myth

Id, Ego, and Superego

Freud’s Structural Hypothesis Applied to Culture


Defense Mechanisms


Condensation and Displacement

Aggression and Guilt

Stereotypes and Aggressive Humor

Freud and Beyond

Jungian Psychoanalytic Theory


Psychoanalytic Analysis of Media: A Cautionary Note

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

Annotated Bibliography

4. Sociological Analysis
Émile Durkheim on Our Social Nature

Some Basic Concepts



Class (Socio-Economic)







Mass Communication and Mass Media



Role (Social)

Sex (Gender)





Uses and Gratifications 2

Genres and Formulas

Content Analysis

Leo Lowenthal on Content Analysis

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

Annotated Bibliography

5. Murderers on the Orient Express
Organizing a Mystery

Detectives as Semioticians

Social and Political Dimensions

Poirot as Revolutionary

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

6. Seven Points on the Game of Football
Football Is a Game of Signs

Instant Replay and the Modern Sensibility

Football Socializes Us

Statistics About Televised Football

Why Baseball Is Boring

Football as an Alternative to Religion

The Marxist Perspective

Football and the Psyche

Concluding Remarks

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

7. The Maiden With the Snake: Interpretations of a Print Advertisement
Signs in Signs: A Primer on Applied Semiotics

The Maiden in Paradise: A Case Study

A Paradigmatic Analysis of the Fidji Advertisement

Psychoanalytic Aspects of the Fidji Text

An Aside on Moisturizers and Anxiety

Final Comments on Perfume and Anxiety

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

8. All-News Radio and the American Bourgeoisi
News and Alienation

News and Ruling-Class Ideology

Commercials and Anxiety

Caught in the Middle

News from Internet and Social Media

Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

9. Video Games: A New Art Form
Are Video Games an Art Form or a Medium?

New Technologies and Video Games

Janet Murray on Interactivity and Immersion

Video Games and Addiction

Video Games and the Problem of Violence

Social and Physical Problems Caused by Video Games

Video Games and Sexuality


Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

10. Cell Phones, Social Media and the Problem of Identity
Media Use by 8 to 18 Year Olds

Social Media

A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Youth and Social Media

The Cell Phone as Sign: A Semiotic Perspective

Marxist Perspectives on Cell Phones


Study Questions and Topics for Discussion

Appendix: Simulations, Activities, Games, and Exercises
Anatomy of a Tale

Paradigmatic Analysis

Dream Analysis

Writing a Therapeutic Fairy Tale

Origin Tales

Radio Scripts

Television Narrative Analysis

The Propp Game


Advertising Analysis

Playing Aaron Wildavsky

Textual Analysis

Name Index
Subject Index
About the Author

This book grew on me during and after the course. I was particularly impressed by the many telling examples (images) and clarifying tables (e.g. connotation vs denotation and metaphor vs metonymy). Therefore, I will suggest to my colleagues to give it 'recommended' status during next course (in January/February 2014).

Mr Leonhardt Van Efferink
Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam
October 6, 2013

The text is a recommended text to accompany the primary text for the course.

Mrs Bethney Wilson
Communication Dept, University of Kentucky
September 16, 2013

I like teaching methods of analysis.

Professor Anthony Villarreal
Social Science Division, Monterey Peninsula College
August 20, 2013

Clear text that helps students consider the increasing role of the media in this discipline

Mrs Joanne Atkinson
Health community and Education Studies, Northumbria University
February 27, 2013

Simple enough for undergrad and complex enough for graduate students (with a supplement).

Dr T Ford-Ahmed
Communications , West Virginia State University
February 8, 2013

The text contained excellent material; however, it was too advanced for my introduction to media and mass communications course. I would adopt this text for a more advanced (upper-undergraduate) course on media and popular culture.

Courtney Feldscher
Sociology Dept, University of Massachusetts
July 10, 2012

interesting book but more suited to research than as a base text

Ms Ciara O'Sullivan
Media and Communcations, Templemore College of Further Education
June 12, 2012

Looks better for a research methods course

Dr Carolyn Cunningham
Communication Arts Dept, Gonzaga University
May 17, 2012

Arthur Asa Berger

Arthur Asa Berger is Professor Emeritus of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University, where he taught between 1965 and 2003. He has published more than 100 articles, numerous book reviews, and more than 60 books. Among his latest books are the third edition of Media and Communication Research Methods: An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (2013), The Academic Writer’s Toolkit: A User’s Manual (2008), What Objects Mean: An Introduction to Material Culture (2009), Bali Tourism (2013), Tourism in Japan: An Ethno-Semiotic Analysis (2010), The Culture Theorist’s Book of Quotations (2010),... More About Author

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412987769