Task 2

Content Analysis of Different Documents to Assess Representations of the Rural in Mass Media, Cinema, Political Discourse and Advertising Campaigns

Starting date: August 2012

Duration: 8 months


The second task is devoted to the examination, through content analysis, of several documents, obtained from different sources and conveyed by diverse means, produced in the last 25 years in Portugal or by Portuguese agents and actors. The major aim of the task is therefore to assess the main representations, images and symbols about rural territories and rurality revealed in those documents. The selection of the 25 year period is related (as mentioned in the Research Plan and Methods Section) with the Portuguese adhesion to EEC in 1986 and particularly with the changes observed from that date on in the political discourse about rural territories, rurality and rural development.

A content analysis framework and corresponding categories of analysis, constructed based on the work developed in the previous task, will be applied to a variety of documents:

  • governmental programmes, in order to understand the place occupied by rural issues, the strategies directed at rural territories and the representations, images and symbols associated with rurality expressed. The last eight programmes of the Constitutional Governments will be assessed (since the 1985 elections).
  • News and advertising reported in newspapers, in order to assess the type of topics, images and symbols associated with rural and rurality. Two national coverage newspapers will be selected and a random sample of issues (by year, month, week and day) in each of them will be selected. Because of their territorial specificity, the local sections of newspapers will not be subject of analysis.
  • Advertising campaigns of official tourism entities, in order to assess the images and discourses on rural areas, rural tourism and rurality. All the campaigns carried out by official national tourism entities during the last 25 years will be analysed.
  • Portuguese fiction films, produced in the last 25 years that specifically relate to rural areas, in order to assess the symbols and images (both in a metaphoric and literall way) conveyed about rurality.

The task will be performed at the same time and in an interactive way with the following one. From this task, together with the inputs from the previous and following ones, it is expected to obtain a broad assessment about the representations, images and symbols used to describe and present rural areas and rurality features in Portugal. A working document, containing the results of the content analysis of the abovementioned documents will be produced in the end of this task.

It is expected that this task, as well as the following one, together with the first, will provide some valuable and adequate variables and indicators to be used in the questionnaire and interview structures and in the analysis of their results. Additionally the results from this task, together with the data obtained from the following ones, will be of paramount importance to the compared analysis of the empirical evidence obtained and global integration of results, to be held in the sixth task, together with the cartographical representation of the Portuguese symbolic geographies of the rural.