Types of Meaning Compared

  • David R. Heise


This chapter compares the three methods for assessing meaning: dictionary definitions, collocates, and word associations. Pairs of methods for assessing meaning specify some of the same identities in every institutional domain. Analysis of collocates provides definitions of institutional domains that are most shared with results from other methods. All three methods yield the same results as follows: economy, six identities; family, sixteen identities; religion, ten identities; polity, fifteen identities; law, five identities; education, eight identities; medicine, three identities; sport, three identities; arts, four identities. Thus all three methods of assessing meaning portray the same institutional domains, though each method has unique specifications. This chapter also attends to how results regarding gender and race fare across methods and to emergence of similar identity components with two but not all three methods. Finally, it is noted that some identity words do not load on any institutional component, regardless of the method for assessing meaning.


Word meanings Institutional domains Gender Race Word isolates 


  1. Parsons, Talcott R., and Edward A. Shils (eds.). 1951. Toward a General Theory of Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ridgeway, Cecilia L. 2009. Framed Before We Know It: How Gender Shapes Social Relations. Gender & Society 23: 145–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Heise
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana University BloomingtonBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations