Water decision–makers in a desert city: Text analysis and environmental social science

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


Text analysis encompasses a broad range of methods. For many researchers, the phrase “text analysis” likely connotes the close reading and interpretation of data that come in the form of words rather than numbers. Yet in this chapter, we argue for an inclusive approach to text analysis-one that recognizes the advantages of moving iteratively between words and numbers in analyzing texts. Our view is that both qualitative and quantitative methods belong in a complete methodological toolkit for analyzing texts. Instead of envisioning text analysis as occupying one side of a qualitative-quantitative continuum, we see text analysis as a suite of methods that can be used to investigate the full range of research questions, from exploratory to confirmatory. Exploratory research questions are used to understand new phenomena-uncovering how they work and developing new models to describe them. Examples of exploratory research in environmental social science, which we discuss in greater detail below, include Paolisso and Maloney's (2000) exploration of environmental knowl-edge of the Chesapeake Bay, and Apostolopoulou and Pantis’ (2009) investigation of failures in Greek conservation policy. Confirmatory research questions are used to test how well existing theories, hypotheses, or models describe a phenomenon of interest. Examples of confirmatory research, also discussed below, include Drieschova, Giordano, and Fischhendler (2008) study of flow variability regulations in international water treaties and Laurian's (2005) research on the efficacy of citizen input mechanisms in the toxic remediation process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Social Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Research Design
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780511760242
ISBN (Print)9780521110846
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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