The SAGE Handbook of Visual Research Methods


Edited by: Eric Margolis & Luc Pauwels

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    About the Authors

    Jan Baetens is professor of cultural studies at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). He has published widely on word and image studies, mainly in the specific domain of so-called ‘minor’ genres (graphic novel, photonovella, novelization). He has also a special interest in the relationships between photography and poetry as well as in the field of constrained writing. His most recent book is Pour le roman-photo (2010).

    Michael Ball is a senior lecturer in sociology and anthropology at Staffordshire University, UK. His work in the field of visual sociology includes Analyzing Visual Data (1992) and ‘Technologies of Realism?’ (in P. A. Atkinson et al., eds., Handbook of Ethnography, 2001), both written with Gregory Smith. Mike has research interests in ethnomethodology, interaction, police work, Buddhism and the philosophy of mind. He has published three edited collections that explore comparative methods of visual research. He has also published an edited collection of studies of Buddhist practice including visualization. He is currently working on books on Buddhism and visualization, and a text book on social theory.

    Raewyn Bassett is an Assistant Professor (Sociology) with the Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University, and qualitative methodologist with the Capital Health District Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her interests and research lie at the intersection of researcher, data analysis software programs, and qualitative methodologies and methods. She uses a range of data sources, including maps, drawings, diagrams, photographs, video, and audio. Raewyn provides workshops in a number of qualitative software programs, and seminars in qualitative research methodologies and methods and their use within qualitative software programs. Currently, she is developing and exploring novel qualitative research methods using new technologies; examining researchers' engagement with qualitative software; and investigating the influence of technologies such as qualitative software and digital tools including cellular phones and geographic positioning systems (GPS) on qualitative methodologies. She has published on methodological issues in peer review journals and reference books.

    Annekatrin Bock is an Assistant Professor and doctoral candidate at the media research division of the Institute of Social Sciences at the Technical University Brunswick, Germany. She studied media and communication studies, business and social psychology and business studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany. For her dissertation she is concerned with the contexts in which production, distribution, and reception of contemporary US-American television prime time series take place. Her research foci are American television series, reception studies, film and television studies as well as online research.

    Prasad Boradkar is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Industrial Design at Arizona State University in Tempe. He is the Director of InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary laboratory at Arizona State University where students and faculty partner with corporations to explore human-centered product concepts that improve society and the environment. His research activities focus on using cultural theory to understand the social significance of the designed environment. His publications include several articles and a book titled Designing Things: A Critical Introduction to the Culture of Objects (2010).

    Richard Chalfen is Senior Scientist at the Center of Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School/Harvard School of Public Health. He is also Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Temple University, former Chair of their Department of Anthropology and Director of the MA Program in Visual Anthropology. He is past president of the American Anthropological Association's Society of Visual Anthropology and recent recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award. His research combines interests in cultural anthropology and visual communication, American Studies and, for the past 15 years, the visual culture of modern Japan. At the Center, he focuses on applying participant media research methods to studies of childhood chronic illness and to relationships of mobile telephonic media and young people. Publications include Snapshot Version of Life (1987), Turning Leaves (1997), and Through Navajo Eyes (co-author, 2001).

    Elizabeth Chaplin calls herself ‘a grandmother with a cameraphone.’ She has kept a daily photo diary for 20 years. Before her retirement Elizabeth Chaplin was an associate lecturer for the Open University UK and a visiting lecturer in sociology at York University UK. She is the author of Sociology and Visual Representation (Routledge, 1994).

    James Chapman is Professor of Film at the University of Leicester (UK). He has wide-ranging research interests in the history of British cinema, television, and popular culture. His books include: The British at War: Cinema, State and Propaganda, 1939–1945 (1998), Past and Present: National Identity and the British Historical Film (2005), and Licence To Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films (second edition, 2007). He co-edited (with Sue Harper and Mark Glancy) The New Film History: Sources, Methods, Approaches (2007) and in 2011 became editor of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.

    Andrew Clark is Lecturer in Sociology in the School of English, Sociology, Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Salford, UK. Previously, he worked as a research fellow for the Economic and Social Research Council funded National Centre for Research Methods: Real Life Methods Node at the University of Leeds, UK. His research focuses on the interplay between space, place, and everyday life, specifically in relation to neighborhoods and community, and inequalities and social exclusion. He also has a keen interest in methodological creativity and innovation. Recent publications have appeared in the journals Arts and Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, Journal of Youth Studies, and the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Theory and Practice.

    Dan Collins joined the School of Art faculty at Arizona State University in 1989. He is founding Co-Director of the PRISM lab (a 3D modeling and prototyping facility) and coordinator of the foundation art program (artCore). Collins studied studio art and art history at the University of California, Davis, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Art Education from Stanford University (1975), a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in ‘New Forms’ and Sculpture from UCLA (1984), and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Arizona State University (2009). Collins's research investigates ‘the gap between the body and technology—between the hand-made and the high-tech.’ His recent publications and professional presentations explore 3D data capture, interactive educational media, and participatory mapping.

    Roderick Coover is Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he teaches media arts, visual research, and critical theory. An innovator in bridging the fields of visual research and interactive documentary production, Coover makes films such as Verité to Virtual (DER), The Theory of Time Here (Video Data Bank), and The Language of Wine ( as well as interactive projects including Cultures in Webs (Eastgate Systems), Outside/Inside (American Philosophical Society Museum), and Unknown Territories ( Coover's essays are published in journals of film, anthropology, and digital culture, and he is the co-editor of the book, Switching Codes: Thinking through Digital Technologies in the Humanities and Arts (Chicago). His awards include USIS-Fulbright, the LEF Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation grants, among others.

    Naydene de Lange holds the newly established HIV and AIDS Research Chair in the Faculty of Education at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Her research focuses on visual participatory methodologies in addressing gender and HIV&AIDS, particularly in rural communities. She publishes in international and national journals and is first editor of the book, Putting People in the Picture: Visual Methodologies for Social Change (2007) and co-author of the book, Picturing Hope (2009). She has headed up and collaborates in various funded research projects. She is also a National Research Foundation (South Africa) rated researcher.

    Tirupalavanam G. Ganesh is Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He has bachelors and masters degrees in Computer Science and Engineering and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. His research interests include educational research methods, communication of research, and k-16+ engineering education. Ganesh's research is largely focused on studying k-12 curricula, and teaching-learning processes in both the formal and informal settings. He is principal investigator of the National Science Foundation sponsored project (2007–2011) Learning through Engineering Design and Practice aimed at designing, implementing, and systematically studying the impact an informal middle-school engineering education program.

    John Grady is the William I. Cole Professor of Sociology at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. He is a past president of the International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA). He is currently the New Media Editor for Visual Studies. His research and teaching interests include the study of cities, technology, and social organization. He has written extensively on visual sociology in general and on the use of the visual mass media as evidence for social and cultural analysis. He has produced numerous documentary films including Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston (1979) and Water and the Dream of the Engineers (1983).

    Brian Gran is on the faculty of the Sociology Department and Law School of Case Western Reserve University. His research focuses on how law is used to designate public-private boundaries in social life. Gran is writing a book tentatively entitled, Rarely Pure and Never Simple: Law and the Public-Private Dichotomy.

    Holger Isermann is an Assistant Professor and doctoral candidate at the media research division of the Institute of Social Sciences at the Technical University Brunswick. He studied media studies, mass communication, politics, film studies, and technical media at the University of Iceland, the Technical University Brunswick, and the Brunswick University of Art. Holger's primary research interests are journalism, science communication, and visual communication. He has also been working as a freelance journalist and photographer for several years.

    Arvid Kappas has been Professor of Psychology at Jacobs University Bremen since 2003. He has been conducting research on emotions for over two decades in the USA, Canada, and in several European countries. Kappas is associate editor of Emotion and Biological Psychology and on the editorial boards of Cognition and Emotion and the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. He is active in numerous scientific societies—at present he is a member of the executive board of HUMAINE. The focus of his research is on the causes and moderators of emotional behaviors, including what people feel and express as well as bodily reactions that can be assessed using psychophysiological methods. He is interested in intra- and interpersonal processes, specifically in direct or mediated communication including via the Internet. Kappas is on the steering committee of the research center, Visual Communication and Expertise (VisComX), at Jacobs University as well as on the scientific advisory committee of the Emotion Centre at the University of Portsmouth.

    Mark Klett is a photographer interested in the intersection of cultures, landscapes, and time. His background includes working as a geologist before turning to photography. Klett has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Japan/US Friendship Commission. Klett's work has been exhibited and published both in the USA and internationally for over 30 years, and his work is held in over 80 museum collections worldwide. He is the author of thirteen books including Saguaros (Radius Press and DAP, 2007), After the Ruins (University of California Press, 2006), Yosemite in Time (Trinity University Press, 2005), and Third Views, Second Sights (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2004), Revealing Territory (University of New Mexico Press, 1990), and Second View, the Rephotographic Survey Project (University of New Mexico Press, 1984). Klett lives in Tempe, Arizona where he is Regents' Professor of Art at Arizona State University.

    Thomas Knieper his primary research interests are journalism, computer-mediated communication, methods, and visual communication. He studied mass communication, statistics, psychology, sociology, and philosophy of science. He received his diploma in statistics in 1989 on the topic of new methods in visualizing hierarchical cluster analysis. He received his doctoral degree in Mass Communication in 1995 on the topic of infographics. His postdoctoral thesis in 2001 was about editorial cartooning. From 2000 till 2004, together with Marion G. Müller, he co-chaired the Visual Communication Group in the German Association of Journalism and Mass Communication (DGPuK). In 2004, he became a full member of the Human Science Center (LMU Munich). Since 2008, he has been a full Professor of Mass Communication and Media at the Technical University Brunswick.

    Hubert Knoblauch is Professor of General Sociology at the Technical University Berlin. His major interests include the sociology of knowledge, communication, and religion. Publications include: Visual Analysis. New Developments in the Interpretative Analysis of Video and Photography Special Volume of Forum: Qualitative Social Research (co-edited with Alejandro Baer, Eric Laurier, Sabine Petschke, and Bernt Schnettler, 2008); Conocimento y sociedad. Ensayos sobre acción, religión y communicación (co-edited with Bernt Schnettler and Jürgen Raab), Video Analysis. Methodology and Methods. Qualitative Audiovisual Data Analysis in Sociology (co-edited with Bernt Schnettler, Jürgen Raab, and Hans-Georg Soeffner, 2008), Qualitative Methods in Europe: The Variety of Social Research Special Volume of Forum Qualitative Social Research (co-edited with Uwe Flick and Christoph Maeder, 2005).

    Francesco Lapenta is Associate Professor in Visual Culture and New Media at the Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, at the University of Roskilde. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal “Visual Studies”, Taylor and Francis, Cambridge, and a member of the executive board of the Intentional Visual Sociology Association and currently a Visiting Professor at the Sociology Department of New York University. Lapenta's most recent work includes the special issue “Autonomy and Creative Labour” of the Journal for Cultural Research July 2010, and the article “Geomedia: on Location-Based Media, the Changing Status of Collective Image Production and the Emergence of Social Navigation Systems”. He recently edited the special issue of Visual Studies, “Locative Media and the Digital Visualisation of Space, Place and Information“(March 2011).

    David MacDougall is a documentary filmmaker and writer on cinema. He was educated at Harvard University and UCLA. His first feature-length film, To Live With Herds, won the Grand Prix Venezia Genti in 1972. Soon after this, he and his wife, Judith MacDougall, produced the Turkana Conversations trilogy of films in Kenya. He directed a number of films on indigenous communities in Australia; then in 1991 co-directed a film on photographic practices in an Indian hill town, and in 1993 made a film on goat herders of Sardinia. In 1997, he began a film study of the Doon School in India. His recent filming has been at a co-educational school in South India and a shelter for homeless children in New Delhi. MacDougall writes regularly on documentary and ethnographic cinema and is the author of Transcultural Cinema and The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses. He is presently a senior researcher at the Australian National University.

    Eric Margolis is a sociologist and teaches in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. He is the President of The International Visual Sociology Association. His visual ethnography of coal miners was broadcast as Out of the Depth—The Miners' Story, a segment of the PBS series A Walk Through the 20th Century with Bill Moyers. An article, ‘Class Pictures: Representations of Race, Gender and Ability in a Century of School Photography,’ (Visual Sociology Vol. 14, 1999) was reprinted in Education Policy Analysis Archives and received ‘Honorable Mention’ for Best Article in an Electronic Journal by the Communication of Research Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. Forthcoming visual research includes: ‘Architectural and Built Environment Discourses in an Educational Context: The Gottscho and Schleisner Collection’ with Sheila Fram, Visual Studies, and School as Ceremony and Ritual: Photography Illuminates Moments of Ideological Transfer with Drew and Sharon Chappell (Qualitative Inquiry 2011).

    Ray McDermott is a Professor of Education at Stanford University. For 40 years, he has used the tools of cultural analysis to critique how children learn, how schools work, and why Americans have invested so heavily in the institution of school failure. Recently, he has been working on the intellectual history of American ideas about learning, genius, and intelligence. He is the author (with Hervé Varenne) of Successful Failure: The Schools America Builds (1998).

    Innisfree McKinnon is a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Oregon. Her research interests include qualitative geographic information systems (GIS) and mixed methods research, the political ecology of industrial and post-industrial societies, social justice issues in relation to conservation and planning, and critical geographies of children and youth. Her dissertation examines the scale of government regulation in relation to land use, planning, and conservation. This research investigates a case study in Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley, where rapid urbanization is threatening rural livelihoods and lifestyles.

    Claudia Mitchell is a James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Education of McGill University, Montreal, Canada. She is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Language, Literacies, Media and Drama Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, where she is a co-founder of the Center for Visual Methodologies for Social Change. Her research looks at youth and sexuality in the age of AIDS, children's popular culture, rurality, girlhood, teacher identity, participatory visual and other arts-based methodologies, and strategic areas of gender and HIV&AIDS in social development contexts in South Africa, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Her recent books include: Making Connections: Self-study and Social Action (co-edited with K. Pithouse and R. Moletsane) and Teaching and HIV&AIDS (with K. Pithouse). She is the co-founder and co-editor of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

    Marion G. Müller is Associate Professor of Mass Communication at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. Her work is located at the intersection of visual communication, political science, and art history, applying iconology as a method of qualitative visual content analysis to questions arising in the social sciences. She has published extensively on the theory of visual communication, for example, the first textbook in German on Grundlagen der visuellen Kommunikation (Foundations of Visual Communication, 2003), and in 2008 edited a special issue of Visual Studies on the topic of Visual Competence—A New Paradigm for Studying Visuals in the Social Sciences? Her current interests are related to the role visuals play in war and conflict, particularly press photography and caricature. In 2000, she co-founded the Visual Communication Division of the German Communication Association (DGPuK), and since 2009 she has been Director of the Research Center, Visual Communication and Expertise (VisComX), at Jacobs University Bremen.

    Darren Newbury is Professor of Photography at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University. He has a background in photography and cultural studies, and completed his PhD on photography and education in 1995. He has published widely on photography, photographic education, and visual research. His most recent research has focused on the development of photography in apartheid South Africa and the re-use of historical images as a form of memorialization in contemporary post-apartheid displays. His book on the subject, Defiant Images: Photography and Apartheid South Africa, was published by the University of South Africa (UNISA) Press in 2009. He has been editor of the international journal Visual Studies since 2003.

    Winfried Nöth is Professor of Linguistics and Semiotics at the University of Kassel and Visiting Professor at the Catholic University of São Paulo. Nöth's 250 articles and 27 authored or edited books are on topics of English linguistics, semiotic aspects of language, literature, the image, maps, the media, systems theory, culture and evolution. His Handbook of Semiotics (translated into Bahasa and from its second revised German edition also into Croatian) was awarded the Choice Outstanding Academic Book prize. Among his other books are Literatursemiotische Analysen—zu Lewis Carrolls Alice-Büchern, Origins of Semiosis, Semiotics of the Media, Crisis of Representation (with C. Ljungberg), Imagen: Comunicación, semiótica y medios, Comunicação e semiótica (both with L. Santaella), Self-Reference in the Media (with N. Bishara), Mediale Selbstreferenz: Grundlagen und Fallstudien zu Werbung, Computerspiel und Comics (with B. Bishara and B. Neitzel), and Estratégias semióticas da publicidade (with L. Santaella).

    Dónal O'Donoghue is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada, where he serves as Chair of Art Education. His research interests are in art education, arts-based visual research methodologies, curriculum theory, and masculinities. He has published widely in these areas and received the 2010 Manuel Barkan Memorial Award from the National Art Education Association (United States) for his scholarly writing. His current SSHRC funded research investigates place-cultures and place-making practices in private boys' schools. Prior to his appointment at UBC, he taught at the University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College, Ireland. He serves as Editor of the Canadian Review of Art Education, a member of The NAEA Council for Policy Studies Art Education, The NAEA Higher Education Division Research Steering Committee, IVSA Executive Board and Studies in Art Education Editorial Board. Previously, he served as the Honorary Secretary of the Arts Based Educational Research SIG of AERA and the Educational Studies Association of Ireland. As an artist, he has exhibited his work in Europe and North America. He can be reached at:

    Bettina Olk is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. Past and present research in Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology, which she has conducted at the University of Bristol (UK), the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), Rice University (Houston, USA), and is now carrying out at Jacobs University, focuses on the control of visual attention and eye movements. She employs methods such as eye tracking, transcranial magnetic stimulation and the assessment of patients with brain injury, to study the interaction between involuntary and voluntary attention/eye movements in the healthy and injured brain. Her work is published in international peer-reviewed journals. She is a member of the Research Center, Visual Communication and Expertise (VisComX), Cognitive Systems and Processes (COSYP) and Aging—Interaction of Processes (AGEACT) at Jacobs University. She is reviewer for more than fifteen international journals and a member of international societies, for example, the Psychonomic Society and the Vision Sciences Society.

    Luc Pauwels is a Professor of Visual Culture at the University of Antwerp (Department of Communication Studies), Belgium. He is the director of the ‘Visual Studies and Media Culture Research Group’ and responsible for the Master program in ‘Film Studies and Visual Culture’ in Antwerp. Currently, Pauwels is the Chair of the Visual Communication Studies Division of the International Communication Association (ICA), and Vice-President of the International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA). As a visual sociologist and communication scientist, he has written extensively on visual research methodologies, visual ethics, family photography, website analysis, anthropological filmmaking, visual corporate culture, and scientific visualization in various international journals. Books include: Visual Cultures of Science: Visual Representation and Expression in Scientific Knowledge Building and Science Communication (2006), Methodisch kijken: aspecten van onderzoek naar film- en beeldcultuur (2007) and a forthcoming monograph with Cambridge University Press: Reframing Visual Sociology. Email:

    Sarah Pink is Professor of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. Her work, rooted in social anthropology, crosses social science, humanities, arts, design and engineering disciplines and makes connections between the agendas of academic, applied, and public scholarship. Her research covers everyday life practices and socialites in domestic and public environments, the senses, media, energy, sustainability and activism, and spatial and practice theories. Her methodological work develops principles for visual, digital, and sensory methods and media in research. Her recent books include: The Future of Visual Anthropology (2006), Visual Interventions (2007), Doing Visual Ethnography (2007), and Doing Sensory Ethnography (2009).

    Jon Prosser is Director of the International Education Management program and a member of the Leeds Social Science Institute at Leeds University, UK. He was project leader for the Economic and Social Research Council's ‘Building Capacity in Visual Methods’ which was part of the UK Researcher Development Initiative. He was involved as a visual methodologist in the ‘Real Life Methods’ project based at Leeds and Manchester universities. Currently, he is contributing to the ‘Realities’ program based at the Morgan Centre, University of Manchester, and a study of Visual Ethics led by Rose Wiles, both funded by the National Centre for Research Methods. He is perhaps best known for editing Image-based Research: A Sourcebook for Qualitative Researchers (1998), which was the first book in the field to present visual research not as a ‘stand-alone’ strategy taking one particular form or perspective, but as a theoretically and methodologically varied approach that drew on other approaches to conducting research.

    Jason Duque Raley is Lecturer SOE in the Gevirtz School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His current research explores the substance, conduct, and consequence of social relations in educational encounters, with a special focus on matters of trust and authority. While celebrating the ingenuity of children and adults improvising their way through everyday activities, his analyses aim to identify moments where such relations can be re-arranged. His work is oriented by the question of whether schools can be made to recover a democratic function. When not writing, teaching, or making video analyses, Raley grows avocadoes and citrus fruits in the Santa Clara River Valley in Ventura County, California.

    Jon H. Rieger received his PhD at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1971 and is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Louisville. After years of engagement in longitudinal survey research, notably in a long-running MSU project in Ontonagon County in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Professor Rieger became interested in visual approaches to sociological inquiry. As one of the founders of the visual sociology movement and a charter member of the IVSA, he served as secretary-treasurer of the organization for more than ten years. In his research in visual sociology, Dr. Rieger is best known for having pioneered the development of the visual method for studying social change that emphasizes various strategies of repeat photography. His 1996 article ‘Photographing Social Change,’ published in Visual Sociology, is widely considered a landmark of scholarship in this area.

    Jeremy Rowe has collected, researched, and written about nineteenth and early twentieth century photographs for twenty-five years. He has written Arizona Photographers 1850–1920: A History and Directory and Arizona Real Photo Postcards: A History and Portfolio, and a number of articles on historic photographers of the Southwest. Rowe worked with the early development of the Library of Congress American Memory project, a digital historic photographic collection. Rowe has curated a number of photographic exhibitions, consults with collectors, museums and archives regarding historic photography, and manages He was the Executive Director of the School of Computing and Informatics at Arizona State University, and is now research faculty. Dr. Rowe has been keynote speaker for the International Visual Literacy Association and Ephemera Society of America, and is on the board of the Daguerreian Society.

    Gregory Smith is Professor of Sociology at the University of Salford. He has written Analyzing Visual Data, with Michael Ball and several articles in the field of visual sociology. He is a co-author of Introducing Cultural Studies (second edition, 2008). He has broad interests in the history and practice of interactionist sociology and has published three books on the sociology of Erving Goffman. Currently, he is working on a project about security in public places and an intellectual biography of Goffman.

    Steven Surdiacourt has a Master Degree in German and Dutch literature and in Cultural Studies. He is currently a PhD fellow of Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO) Flanders at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). His main interests lie in the field of visual studies, particularly in the relation between image and text. He wrote his Master's thesis about the representation of post-war German identity in René Burri's documentary work. His PhD research focuses on the narratology of the graphic novel, in a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. He is also interested in the pictorial representation of individual writers and in the consequences of Bruno Latour's thinking for media theory.

    René Tuma is Research Assistant at the Technical University Berlin, Germany. His major interests include the sociology of knowledge, communication, and technology. Besides working with video analysis his current work focuses on the sociological study of the practices of video analysis. He is interested how video technology is used in a variety of fields.

    Theo van Leeuwen is Professor of Media and Communication and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney. He has published widely in the area of visual communication, multimodality, and critical discourse analysis. He is a founding editor of the journal Visual Communication. His latest books include: Global Media Discourse (with David Machin, 2007) and Discourse and Practice—New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis (2008). His new book, The Language of Colour, will be published in late 2010.

    Jon Wagner is Professor Emeritus in the School of Education at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on children's material culture, qualitative and visual research methods, school change, and the social and philosophical foundations of education. He is a past President of the International Visual Sociology Association and was the founding Image Editor of Contexts, the American Sociological Association's general interest publication. He authored Misfits and Missionaries: A School for Black Dropouts (1977), and also edited two volumes that focus on the intersection of visual studies and social research: Images of Information: Still Photography in the Social Sciences (1979) and Visual Sociology 14 (1 and 2): Seeing Kids, Worlds (1999).

    Rose Wiles is Co-Director and Principal Research Fellow at the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) Hub at the University of Southampton, UK. Her interests are in research ethics, qualitative research methods, innovation in research methods and medical sociology. Along with her colleagues, Sue Heath and Graham Crow, she conducted a study of informed consent as part of the Economic and Social Research Council's Research Methods Programme. In collaboration with colleagues from, and funded by the NCRM, she recently conducted a study of visual researchers' views and experiences of visual ethics. Recent publications have appeared in the journals Arts and Health; Social Science and Medicine; and the International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

    Terence Wright is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Master of Fine Art Photography programme at the University of Ulster. For ten years, he worked for BBC Television News and Current Affairs and Independent Television News (ITN). He produced and directed The Interactive Village (2007): a digital ethnography for broadband delivery as part of ‘NM2’ (New Millennium, New Media European Union funded research project: and The River Boyne (2009): mobile media guide funded by FUSION (a cross-border economic development initiative forming part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process). He is the author of The Photography Handbook (1999 and 2004) and Visual Impact: Culture and the Meaning of Images (2008). His current research focuses on the role of visualization in the representation of contested histories, identity and heritage, and their contemporary political ramifications.

    Preface: Aims and Organization of this Handbook

    Throughout the past several decades, visual research as a methodology and research on the visual as a topic of interest have produced an increasingly articulated set of paradigms and fields.

    This handbook seeks to provide an accessible and coherent ‘state-of-the-art’ account of visual research across a growing number of disciplines and from a host of different perspectives.

    It is intended as a guide for those new to the field, and interested in designing visual research projects, but also as a companion for seasoned visual researchers. We expect readers to come from across the academic spectrum: sociology, anthropology, psychology, communication, media studies, education, cultural studies, journalism, health, nursing, women's studies, ethnic studies, global studies, cultural geography, art and design, etc.

    The handbook elucidates the theoretical currents and key controversies, but also different approaches to gathering, analyzing, and presenting visual data. It aims to present ‘cutting-edge’ as well as long-standing and recognized practices, exemplify both the best and most recent methods and techniques, and also present some emerging trends and debates.

    Because visual research methods and interest in visual studies are global phenomena, we tried to include contributors, both leading authorities and new voices, from a wide geographical spread and from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds: sociology, anthropology, communication studies, geography, psychology, photography, the fine arts, history, film studies, education, semiotics, and legal studies, among others.

    While a certain coherence is pursued in this handbook, it is not achieved by suppressing points of view or imposing an artificial uniformity based on just a few dominant theoretical perspectives. The contributions represent a wide range of epistemological positions and include methods and techniques as varied as eye tracking research, autoethnography, and arts-based approaches.

    It was the deliberate choice of the handbook editors to reflect the empirical, theoretical, and methodological diversity typical for this burgeoning field of research. Authors were encouraged to present their views in substantiated ways, even if their views at times diverted or contradicted those of other contributors, including those of the editors. Thus, the handbook does not produce a consistent view or voice, but seeks to exemplify the diversity in methods and techniques as well as the sometimes conflicting views and assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of those approaches. This seemed to result in a more valid presentation of the field in its current diverse state of development.

    The 37 chapters of this handbook have been arranged in seven parts that each highlight a key aspect or option of visual research in its present form of development. While this works well for most chapters, some have been difficult to classify because issues of collecting, producing, analyzing, and presenting visuals are typically intertwined in visual research. Moreover, many more threads tend to crosscut the seven sections, such as cross-disciplinary exchanges, for instance, between design and ethnography, or geography and sociology. Moreover, the very nature of the visual suggests the meeting and perhaps conflict of art and science.

    Part One: Framing the Field of Visual Research provides a detailed view of the state of the field by discussing, theorizing, and conceptualizing the history, place, prospects, and broader context of visual methods and visual studies. It presents an integrated analytical framework that pinpoints key issues and options in visual research (Pauwels), offers a proposal to redirect visual culture studies to examine how one is looking, with or without camera technology, and how one is being seen or looked at (Chalfen), examines three manifestations of visual studies (as ‘offshoot, branch, and root’) including a systematic description of the material challenges of empirical enquiry (Wagner), and closes with a provocative exploration of the relationship between culture, materiality, and visibility (Wagner).

    Part Two: Producing Visual Data and Insight consists of four chapters that elaborate on and discuss different ways to generate and process visual data. These ‘researcher-generated production’ methods cover both moving and still images, as well as computer-based and free-hand drawing techniques. This section covers a wide area ranging from anthropological filmmaking (MacDougall), the techniques and uses of repeat photography in both landscape research (Klett) and for documenting social change (Rieger), to the use of visualization methods in design practice (Boradkar).

    Part Three: Participatory and Subject-centered Approaches similarly focuses on visual data production techniques, but particularly on those that explicitly seek to stimulate respondent participation in various forms, some of which challenge or interrogate the researcher—respondent or observer—subject divide. This section covers participatory video (Mitchell and De Lange), an integrated discussion of the many participatory techniques that enjoy an increasing popularity (Chalfen), photo-elicitation (Lapenta), subject-produced drawing (Ganesh), and concludes with a discussion and an example of the photo diary as auto-ethnography (Chaplin).

    Part Four: Analytical Frameworks and Approaches presents the main theoretical frameworks and methodological tools for analyzing images ('found images' but also researcher produced ones): content analysis (Bock, Isermann, and Knieper), iconography (Müller), semiotics (Nöth), and rhetoric (Wright), as well as ethnomethodological (Ball and Smith) and microethnographic accounts for producing and using images (McDermott and Raley; Knoblauch and Tuma). Special attention is paid to trying to make sense of historic images, both still (Margolis and Rowe) and moving images (Chapman).

    Part Five: Visualization Technologies and Practices foregrounds rapidly emerging technologies for conducting and presenting visual research. It contains contributions about ‘eye tracking’ as a unique tool for examining how people literally are looking (Olk and Kappas), the emerging uses of cartography in social and cultural research (McKinnon), using Geographic Information Systems in a more participatory way (Collins), visualizing quantitative data (Grady), and using various software to analyze visual data (Bassett).

    Recognizing both the expressive boundaries of the visual as well as its convoluted connections with other expressive systems and sensory experiences, Part Six: Moving Beyond the Visual first introduces the concept of ‘multimodality’ (van Leeuwen), to further include a multimodal tool for analyzing Internet phenomena (Pauwels), insights about image text relations (Baetens and Surdiacourt), and a call for research that also tries to include non-visual (auditory, olfactory, tactile) sensory experiences (Pink).

    The final section of this collection, Part Seven: Options and Issues for Using and Presenting Visual Research, first addresses new multimedia opportunities (Coover), and arts-based research and presentation (O'Donoghue). Other chapters discuss: expressive (Newbury), ethical (Wiles, Clark, and Prosser) and legal (Rowe) issues of performing and publishing visual research. There is also an example of applying visual research methods to make a legal case (Gran).

    While this collection colors outside the lines of traditional (visual) social science, and covers a broad spectrum of issues and uses, it cannot claim to cover the whole hybrid and dispersed universe of visual studies and visualization practices in the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. Moreover, the field is in rapid flux due to technological innovations, the adoption of visual research methods by traditional disciplines, and the rapidly developing transdisciplinary research groups. We strongly believe that the future of visual research will depend on the continued effort to cross disciplinary boundaries and engage in constructive dialogue with different schools of thought. The aim is to produce a more integrated knowledge base about the visual as a source, tool, and form of scholarly expression.

    EricMargolis and LucPauwels

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