Nigerian Reproductive Health This Literature Methodology Chapter

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It is never possible to know everything about the world: We each possess a limited perspective. However, the point of research (as opposed to other ways of investigating the world, such as writing poetry) is to maximize the amount of knowledge that one can acquire.

Textual analysis in this case would treat written assessments of the state of reproductive health in Nigeria as a form of narrative about the culture, a form of storytelling. To describe it as storytelling, however, might be construed as implying that the texts in question are somehow fictional, or even intentionally inaccurate. But the point of textual analysis, the fundamental reason that this form of research design and analysis exists to begin with, is that all texts (whether written or verbal) can be analyzed as a form of story.

From this perspective, storytelling is seen as one of the most basic of all human activities, something that has been central to human nature and human behavior since the very beginning of our species.

These types of analysis seek to get beneath the surface (denotative) meanings and examine more implicit (connotative) social meanings. These textual analysis approaches often view culture as a narrative or story-telling process in which particular "texts" or "cultural artifacts" (i.e., a pop song or a TV program) consciously or unconsciously link themselves to larger stories at play in the society. A key here is how texts create subject positions (identities) for those who use them. (Textual analysis, n.d.)

Using this perspective, all texts that have been assembled on any issue, especially one that addresses a topic that is so politically and emotionally charged as reproductive health, can be mined for the kind of complex, deeply detailed information as any source of primary data. While in terms of traditional research design, analyzing a text is defined as an analysis of secondary data, looked at from the perspective of someone interested in textual analysis, the text becomes a source of primary data. Texts can be seen, in terms of textual analysis, as being a form of myth. Again, "myth" here is not used in its common sense as a story that is fictional, as explained below:

Popular usage of the term 'myth' suggests that it refers to beliefs which are demonstrably false, but the semiotic use of the term does not necessarily suggest this.
Myths can be seen as extended metaphors. Like metaphors, myths help us to make sense of our experiences within a culture (Lakoff & Johnson 1980, 185-6). They express and serve to organize shared ways of conceptualizing something within a culture. (Chandler, 1994).

In this sense, any document about a social phenomenon can be seen to be telling a particular story about a community and serving to uphold one myth or another about the community. It may be used to uphold the official ideology of the community (for example, that Nigeria is a modernizing company with a bright future) or an unofficial narrative of the country (for example, that the health of women is not considered to be as important as economic development tailored to meet the needs of lending agencies). This research is designed to identify exactly what story is being told about reproductive health in Nigeria.


Chandler, R. (1994) Retrieved from

The qualitative vs. quantitative debate, n.d. Retrieved from

Textual analysis, n.d. Retrieved from

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