The discipline of communication grapples with the paradox of simultaneously condemning and celebrating images, privileging words yet seduced by images. As a result, communication erratically engages images. These conflicting motivations only partially explain the trouble with analyzing visual materials. Another major explanation is the changing media matrix. With the emergence of photography and film and now video and the Internet and social media, there has been a seismic shift from a culture of words to a culture of images, from reading to viewing. Consequently, ways of studying images have varied greatly. This entry charts five major approaches for engaging images and suggests where the discipline is now. The bias in this entry is toward qualitative approaches, but these orientations are suggestive for quantitative ...
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