Visual Methodologies: Participatory Potential, Practicalities, De-Familiarisation and Dissemination


The use of visual methods in social science research has become popular, and creative techniques are widely recognised as having the potential to evoke more nuanced understanding of the ways in which other people experience their worlds. This ‘methods in action’ case focuses on the visual data production techniques of photo-elicitation, mapping and collage making, and examines four key areas. First, the case engages with debates around the participatory potential of visual data production and complicates the idea that visual methods are necessarily participatory. Second, practicalities are considered in relation to working with visual data in the field. Third, the case explores the idea of familiarity by introducing data examples where visual methods are employed to disrupt and question the taken-for-granted assumptions held by both researcher and participant. Fourth, the challenges of disseminating research findings without losing the creativity of the data is discussed, with reference to alternative forms of presentation.

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