Compare and contrast how content analysis and ethnographic research have been used to study children’s understanding of friendship.

Compare and contrast how content analysis and ethnographic research have been used to study children’s understanding of friendship.

Compare and contrast how content analysis and ethnographic research have been used to study children’s understanding of friendship.


The two studies which I have chosen to look at are those of Brian Bigelow and John La Gaipa (1974) and William Corsaro. I will look at each study in depth which will include each research method used to carry out the studies. With this required information I will be able to look for any similarities or differences which will in turn allow me to compare and contrast them.

Bigelow and Gaipa used content analysis in which they asked children to think about their best friend of the same sex and then write an essay about what why they had chosen the person they had to be their best friend, and also, how they differed from their other friends and acquaintances (as cited in Brownlow).

They compiled 480 essays which were written by children aged between six and fourteen who came from upper working-class and lower middle-class families. They were recruited form eight different schools where they choose 30 boys and 30 girls from each, to take part in their research (cited in Brownlow 2012)

Before this study was carried out, Bigelow and Gaipa put together a list of different characteristics which they thought children may have included in their essays such as loyalty and commitment, genuineness and similarity in attitudes and values. They collated twenty-one different categories of friendship expectations which they then cross-referenced with the children’s essays of their best friends.

They used the approach of content analysis, an approach which allowed them to analyse the written material which involved identifying and counting pre-selected features relevant to the question being asked.

They took all of the 480 essays, matched them against the list which they had pre empted, and looked for any patterns within the essays which would help to provide information about the changing attitudes in children as they get older....

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