20 SES 05, Narratives, Photography Narratives and Drama; How Do These Methods Work in Research and What Kind of Knowledge Will These Methods Provide on Topics Like Diversity, Identity, Social Skills and Life?
In last years presentation, I gave first impressions on a photo-elicitation project that is meant to help handling diversity in classroom settings. Starting point in the project are pictures taken by students to represent their daily life to others and to engage in discussions about it to gain an understanding of each others life. Photo voice is helpful to engage in this kind of presentation and discussion because it enables students to talk about what they see in the photographs rather than just imagining what might be going on in the life of others. In this perspective, photography was suggested for methodological reasons because it enables discourse beyond spoken language. With the knowledge in mind that the language barrier is one of the big issues in diverse classrooms, the use of photography for representing ones own life helps to form more inclusive spaces in classroom settings. Nevertheless the discussion of last years presentation brought to light some critical issues with this approach and its methods, too. This years paper is to address those challenges from a more theoretical point of view to sketch out some practical implications towards the end.
The process of taking pictures requires an examination of the current setting and situation and therefore involves the photographer in a form of re-assessment of his*her daily life. The photo device helps to focus on chosen aspects, to focus on something that is considered essential when presenting ones own life to others. In this sense taking pictures is a translation of ones own understanding of self-presentation into a re-presentation of life for others. Some research suggested that especially young people use pictures to invent themselves, to form their identity, and to try out different roles. Within the project all the pictures taken show daily life of the participants: the places they go to, things they do, people they meet. The camera therefore is a device that is set between the student and her*his surroundings. The pictures takes show the position of the photographer to his*her surroundings – and in this sense the photographs give an impression of the self-understanding of the student. The key argument in research -pictures help to develop a sense of my identity- still works but in a ‘negative’ way: in taking pictures of others and by documenting my daily life I find a way to talk about me without being in the picture myself.
The challenge of this research is to ‘read’ the practices in the pictures taken and to find and identify the visual regimes that help us to familiarise ourselves with the situation shown. To take a picture is to create a narration that will tell the story you have in mind. To understand a picture, the viewer refers to visual regimes, that is embodied forms and norms of decoding pictures, and responds in some kind to it. When this decoding fails, the viewer rejects not only the picture but what it shown on it, too. The challenge when approaching diversity and/or otherness through photographs is to lay ground to a reading of pictures that includes an attention for those regimes to overcome pure rejection. Thus, to think of photographs as narrations is in this paper considered helpful to learn about those regimes and their normative influence of our understanding of the world. Bringing in this kind of pre-understanding of visuals and combining it with the notion of daily practices might help to conceptualise a theoretical framework for dealing with otherness through pictures. This again can help to outline new ways to challenge diverse classroom settings.
Burles, Meridith; Thomas, Roanne (2014): “I Just Don’t Think There’s Any Other Image That Tells The Story Like [This] Picture Does”: Researcher and Participant Reflections on the Use of Participant-Employed Photography in Social Research. IN: International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2014, 13, S. 185-205. Gubrium, Aline; Harper, Chris; Otañez, Marty (Hg.) (2015): Participatory Visual and Digital Research in Action. Left Coast Press, S. 131-146. Hammond, Joyce D (2004): Photography and ambivalence. IN: Visual Studies, Vol. 19(2), S. 135-144. Harley, Anne (2012): Picturing Reality: Power, Ethics, and Politics in Using Photovoice. IN: International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2012, 11(4), S. 320-339. Harper, Douglas (2002): Talking about pictures: a case for photo elicitation. IN: Visual Studies, Vol. 17(1), S. 13-26. Harper, Douglas (2012): Visual Sociology. London; New York: Routledge. Hirschauer, Stefan; Amann, Klaus (Hg.) (1997): Die Befremdung der eigenen Kultur. Zur ethnographischen Herausforderung soziologischer Empirie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Hockings, Paul (Hg.) (2003): Principles of Visual Anthropology. Third edition. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Hörning, Karl H.; Reuter, Julia (Hg.) (2004): Doing Culture. Neue Positionen zum Verhältnis von Kultur und sozialer Praxis. Bielefeld: transcript, S. 73-91. Jurkowski, Janine M.; Paul-Ward, Amy (2007): Photovoice With Vulnerable Populations: Addressing Disparities in Health Promotion Among People With Intellectual Disabilities. IN: Health Promotion Practice, October 2007 Vol. 8(4), S. 358-365. Pauwels, Luc (2008): Taking and Using. IN: Visual Communication Quarterly, 15(4), S. 243-257. Pauwels, Luc (2008): Visual Literacy and Visual Culture: Reflections on Developing More Varied and Explicit Visual Competencies. IN: The Open Communication Journal, 2, S. 79-85. Pauwels, Luc (2015): ‘Participatory’ visual research revisited: A critical-constructive assessment of epistemological, methodological and social activist tenets. IN: Ethnography, Vol. 16(1), S. 95–117. Strack, Robert W.; Magill, Cathleen; McDonagh, Kara (2004): Engaging Youth through Photovoice. IN: Health Promotion Practice, January 2004 Vol. 5(1), S. 49-58. Wiles, Rose; Prosser, Jon et al. (2008): Visual Ethics: Ethical Issues in Visual Research. Url: http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/421/1/MethodsReviewPaperNCRM-011.pdf (last 09/2016). Wilson, Nance; Dasho, Stefan et al. (2007) Engaging Young Adolescents in Social Action Through Photovoice. The Youth Empowerment Strategies (YES!) Project. IN: Journal of Early Adolescence, Vol 27(2), S. 241-261.
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