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Visual Methods in Social Research

Visual Methods in Social Research

Second Edition

June 2015 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The Second Edition of this popular text confirms the book’s status as an important forerunner in the field of visual methods.

Combining the theoretical, practical and technical the authors discuss changing technologies, the role of the internet and the impact of social media. Presenting an interdisciplinary guide to visual methods they explore both the creation and interpretation of visual images and their use within different methodological approaches.

This clear, articulate book is full of practical tips on publishing and presenting the results of visual research and how to use film and photographic archives.

This book will be an indispensable guide for anyone using or creating visual images in their research.

The trouble with pictures

An introductory example

Unnatural vision

Reading narratives

Formal readings

Planning a research project with visual methods

On Television

Visual forms produced I: representations of society

Interpreting Forest of Bliss

Still and moving images

Visual forms produced II: representations of knowledge



Diagrams of Nuer lineages

Visual forms encountered

Encountering 'indigenous' media

The image as evidence

'Us' and 'them'?

Object and representation

The materiality of visual forms

Displaying family photographs

Exchanged goods

Market exchange

Size matters

Transformations: digitisation and computer-based media

Digital manipulation

Digital pornography: constraining the virtual

Digital pornography: exchange and circulation

Silk thread to plastic bags

Researching image use and production in social contexts

Watching television

Soap opera in India and Egypt

Television as social presence

Doing things with photographs and films

Photo-elicitation with archival images

Photo-elicitation with contemporary images

Learning from photo-elicitation


Working with archival material

Photographic archives and picture libraries

Film archives


Creating images for research


A ladder climbed then discarded

Documentary exploration

Documentary control

Collaborative projects

Indigenous media collaborations

Collaborative after effects

Ethics and visual research

Ethical review


Returning images


Presenting photographs

The photographic essay

Presenting ethnographic and other films

Study guides and other contextualisation

Databases and digital images

Can computer see?

Multimedia projects

Interacting with Yanomamo


The state of visual research

The place of visual research

The nature of visual research


This text provides a valuable overview of visual methods, which translates effectively to educational contexts. The foundation of visual methods within anthropology is clear and concise, without narrowing the field too greatly. The range of examples of visual methods also facilitates opportunities for students to engage with visual methods as a robust and comprehensive method for research.

Ms Lorraine Anne Loveland-Armour
Department of Education, Newman University
July 21, 2016

Excellent book in a growing area of interest

Mrs denise Burke Mac Giolla Ri
Humanities , AIT Athlone Institute of Technology
November 25, 2015

Informative text which encourages students to broaden their thinking

Mrs Catherine Frances Delves-Yates
School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of East Anglia
June 24, 2016

I enjoyed reading the first edition, and it provided some interesting insights into the processes involved with visual methods in social research. This book provides a great commentary, which will aid students in facilitating visual method research.

Dr Michael Richards
Applied Health and Social Care , Edge Hill University
May 22, 2016

This is a particularly useful text as it is interdisciplinary. More important than that is the fact that it addresses a gap in visual analysis/research design by including indigenous examples. As we are based in Africa this is very useful for our students and often an oversight of other, similar books. Also, considering the glocal emphasis on postcolonialism and the decolonisation of curricula, it is indeed most relevant.

Professor Beschara Karam
Department of Communicatin Science, University of South Africa
November 22, 2015

Exceptional book. Great support to students and interesting dissertations as a result.

Dr Claudia Sima
Dept of Tourism & Leisure Management, University of Central Lancashire
December 9, 2015

It is an accessible text that provides intriguing and well-balanced knowledge of the social and cultural significance of media representations. Students in media studies, sociology and cultural studies will find it highly helpful.

Dr Miyoung Oh
Department of Sport, Sheffield Hallam University
June 30, 2015

This is an interesting research methods text which offers students with alternative methods of data collection. It provides some very good examples for students to understand how to collect visual methods of data collection, as well as, how to work with these.

Mrs Kathryn Nethercott
Department of Education, Bedfordshire University
June 17, 2015

Useful as a guide for those who choose this form of research. Not ror everyone

Dr Sean McCusker
School of Education, Durham University
June 8, 2015

As this text is very specific in its title and outlook, it will be relevant to specific to specific researchers. However, it is an excellent guide to those researchers who need to engage children and older adults in the research process around data collection. It gives the reader a step-by-step guide to the use and importance of visual methods in research. It will be an extremely useful book for me to recommend should any students undertake research with specific participant groups and I will direct students to this text accordingly.

Mr Thomas Beary
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work, University of Hertfordshire
June 4, 2015

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