Textual analysis refers to a research methodology that a researcher employs to describe, interpret, and comprehend various texts. Researchers extract information from the text and critically evaluate the text. Researchers evaluate the literal, symbolic, and figurative meanings embedded in the text. Also, it encompasses assessing the underlying assumptions and philosophical underpinnings of the text. Textual analysis can be used to evaluate all sorts of fictional and non-fictional texts. It is a qualitative research technique and encompasses interpretative approaches to evaluate the text within the socio-political and cultural context. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of textual analysis and its various approaches.

What is Textual analysis?

Textual analysis is a critical analysis of various texts. Therefore, it is imperative to comprehend what is meant by text. A text refers to the written word comprising books (fictional and non-fictional), essays, journal articles, dialogues, and social media textual content. Text, broadly speaking, is anything that conveys meaning to a reader. Thus, when we think about text, we must consider printed materials like books, periodicals, advertisements, and even memos. Media and cultural studies also categorise videos, songs, works of art, and even animation text since all of these things are something you can observe with your eyes. The latter categories qualify as text in the figurative sense, which implies that there is always an inherent meaning embedded in these forms of communication and pertains to the broader socio-political and cultural context in which these communication mediums are produced.

Textual analysis, therefore, entails the examination and critical evaluation of various texts to increase comprehensibility. It comprises evaluating the linguistic aspects and assessing the symbolic, metaphorical, and figurative ideas embedded in the text. Also, researchers evaluate the imagery and patterns that a text signifies. Textual analysis enables us to comprehend and gain a thorough understanding of how individuals express their beliefs, feelings, and emotions through texts. For instance, novels, short stories, articles, and essays reveal a lot about people’s personal experiences, emotions, and opinions. Similarly, an analysis of social media reveals the thought process of people since people share, tweet, and comment on the posts and indulge in producing digital discourse. The overall socio-political and economic paradigms influence the discourse itself.

What are the different approaches in textual analysis?

Following are the three overarching approaches in textual analysis:

Rhetorical Criticism

Rhetoric implies the persuasive power of the speaker or author and the usage of language in a way that seeks to convince the reader about something. Rhetoric is also used to spark the reader’s interest and provoke the reader to think about an issue. However, rhetoric also has negative connotations, and expert writers often discourage a verbose discourse. In general, rhetoric pertains to a language device that aims to persuade the reader, and rhetorical criticism systematically evaluates the text and the embedded rhetoric.

Rhetorical criticism systematically evaluates a text and aims to describe, evaluate and interpret the persuasive language employed by the author and also assessing that in what manner the author uses it. Rhetoric in the Greek period comprised classical rhetoric specifically catered to oratory. However, in contemporary times, rhetoric encompasses broad philosophical and political debates circulating the news and social media. Rhetorical criticism in textual analysis aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Explains the goals of a convincing message
  • It can help with comprehension of historical, social, and cultural settings
  • Rhetorical criticism can also help critically examine society with the tool of social criticism
  • can help develop hypotheses by demonstrating how theories relate to the rhetorical discourse
  • Helps in the development of pedagogical practices and the effects of language in teaching

Content Analysis

Content analysis is the most popular technique in textual analysis that seeks to locate, record, and examine instances of particular messages and communication traits that are embedded in texts. It can be used to evaluate website content and, most importantly, social media content to identify the repeating instances for finding similarities and patterns. However, the foremost task of a researcher is to evaluate the underlying meanings of the text within the broad contours of socio-political, cultural, and philosophical paradigms. For example, the meme culture has become widespread today, and often it is loaded with political predispositions used for trolling people with different viewpoints. Therefore, researchers analyse the underlying meanings and associated implications of memes that have become widespread over the Internet and social media.

Content analysis also identifies common themes and patterns by categorising, coding, and labeling the data. Content analysis employs both qualitative and quantitative tools to extract, sort, and interpret the repeating occurrences. It requires familiarity with some statistical tools for quantifying common occurrences; therefore, if you need any help in conducting content analysis, you can always get help from expert researchers at Dissertation Help.

Interaction analysis

Interaction analysis is another crucial approach in textual analysis that seeks to understand the behavioral aspects of communication. Researchers analyse the linguistic elements, for instance, the choice of words, sentences, and parts of speech. The interactive part pertains to the bodily gestures used in communication, such as eye contact and hand gestures. This technique is particularly useful for evaluating videos and movies. Also, researchers seek to examine the aims and objectives of the communication and intended outcomes.

Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis is the fourth important component of textual analysis. Every epoch generates a discourse that often originates in the context of broader socio-political, economical, and cultural paradigms. Conversely, a discourse shapes and molds the political and socio-political climate. For example, the Renaissance discourse was largely responsible for the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1789. These two movements came into existence as a consequence of the propagation of ideas of liberty, equality, and freedom.

Conversely, the works of fiction produced during the colonial time period reflected the power dynamics, for example, Conrad’s Hear of Darkness. Conrad’s novel was laden with colonial notions of superiority and depicted the colonized as unruly and uncivilized people for whom colonization was a blessing. Researchers seek to extract information from these texts and critically evaluate the larger socio-political frameworks in which they are produced and how their production and dissemination, in turn, consolidate the power structures and entrench the already established notions and perspectives. Discourse analysis entails critical evaluation of text and applying critical thinking skills to dissect and evaluate the text analytically. Therefore, if you cannot do it on your own, you can always get help from expert writers at Dissertation Writers UK.


Textual analysis is a useful technique for evaluating text’s embedded meanings. Researchers seek to comprehend the semantic and latent meanings of the text. They focus on the literal, figurative, metaphorical, and symbolic meanings underlying the text.

By Alberta