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Visual Communication

Visual Communication
Understanding Images in Media Culture

May 2019 | 312 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Visual Communication: Understanding Images in Media and Culture provides a theoretical and empirical toolkit to examine implications of mediated images. It explores a range of approaches to visual analysis, while also providing a hands-on guide to applying methods to students' own work. The book:

  • Illustrates a range of perspectives, from content analysis and semiotics, to multimodal and critical discourse analysis
  • Explores the centrality of images to issues of identity and representation, politics and activism, and commodities and consumption
  • Brings theory to life with a host of original case studies, from celebrity videos on Youtube and civil unrest on Twitter, to the lifestyle branding of Vice Media and Getty Images
  • Shows students how to combine approaches and methods to best suit their own research questions and projects 

An invaluable guide to analysing contemporary media images, this is essential reading for students and researchers of visual communication and visual culture. 

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Understanding images in media culture: methodological considerations
Chapter 3: Envisioning the self in digital media
Chapter 4: Communicating visions of collective identity
Chapter 5: Ways of seeing difference beyond stereotypes
Chapter 6: Images of politicians in the public sphere
Chapter 7: The visual spectacles of protest and activism
Chapter 8: Picturing international conflict and war
Chapter 9: The visual attractions of advertising and promotional culture
Chapter 10: Visualizing lifestyles as commodities
Chapter 11: Brands as visual experiences
Chapter 12: Conclusion

This smart and engaging book introduces readers to some of the most pressing debates in visual communications studies. Effective in making often-opaque theories accessible, Aiello and Parry situate these debates in relation to a diverse toolkit of current research methods. Eighteen thickly-contextualized case studies skillfully illustrate the various steps students need to design their own projects. 

Wendy Kozol
Oberlin College and Conservatory

How can we understand images in media culture? Writing with clarity, insight and flair, Aiello and Parry show us that while there is no simple answer, there are many good analytical paths to pursue, demonstrating their value across no less than eighteen case studies – from political memes to photojournalism to Hollywood movie trailers and commercial imagery. Focusing on how visual communication is entangled with identities, politics and commodities, this book is not only an exemplary introduction to visual communication research: it is a significant and timely guide to the powers and properties of contemporary images.

Paul Frosh
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Organised around the themes of identities, politics and commodification, this book offers multiple conceptual insights into how images are created, circulated, seen, sold, modified and destroyed. Its themes and arguments are grounded in a series of detailed and clearly written examples, which also explore the methodological implications of approaching images as forms of visual communication. All this adds up to a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary visual culture.

Gillian Rose
University of Oxford

Interesting, creative and insightful

Dr Ilkay Taş Gürsoy
Reha Midilli Tourism Faculty, Dokuz Eylul Universitesi
February 3, 2020

It is a valuable book to help me understand different options in doing research with children & youth. It may influence my teaching in a more indirect way. My courses are not specific enough for the book to be a main literature resource.

Dr Barbara Johanna Lill-Rastern
Social Work, Management Center Innsbruck
January 17, 2020

Broadens student appreciation of the range and impact of multiple media platforms in relation to communication in a changing H&SC landscape of provision

Ms Clair Rees
Health, Social and Childcare, Neath Port Talbot College
December 13, 2019
Key features

Need 1: Visual culture is proliferating online. Students need teaching tools that reflect this and give them the tools to analyze these images in their own media experience.

Meeting need: Reviewers commented on the inclusion across the book of examples and case studies from digital and social media as strength that sets this book apart.


Need 2: Learning from a variety of approaches common in media studies research.

Meeting need: Built for media studies and drawing on examples resonant with media students, each case study provides a 'toolkit' approach walking students through an analytic technique or method, and how it can be applied to a particular image or visual context.

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