The second, thoroughly revised and expanded, edition of The SAGE Handbook of Visual Research Methods presents a wide-ranging exploration and overview of the field today. As in its first edition, the Handbook does not aim to present a consistent view or voice, but rather to exemplify diversity and contradictions in perspectives and techniques. The selection of chapters from the first edition have been fully updated to reflect current developments. New chapters to the second edition cover key topics including picture-sorting techniques, creative methods using artefacts, visual framing analysis, therapeutic uses of images, and various emerging digital technologies and online practices. At the core of all contributions are theoretical and methodological debates about the meanings and study of the visual, presented in vibrant accounts of research design, analytical techniques, fieldwork encounters and data presentation. This handbook presents a unique survey of the discipline that will be essential reading for scholars and students across the social and behavioural sciences, arts and humanities, and far beyond these disciplinary boundaries. The Handbook is organized into seven main sections: PART 1: FRAMING THE FIELD OF VISUAL RESEARCH; PART 2: VISUAL AND SPATIAL DATA PRODUCTION METHODS AND TECHNOLOGIES; PART 3: PARTICIPATORY AND SUBJECT-CENTERED APPROACHES; PART 4: ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORKS AND PERSPECTIVES; PART 5: MULTIMODAL AND MULTISENSORIAL RESEARCH; PART 6: RESEARCHING ONLINE PRACTICES; and PART 7: COMMUNICATING THE VISUAL: FORMATS AND CONCERNS.

Chapter 5: Seeing Things: Visual Research and Material Culture

Seeing Things: Visual Research and Material Culture

Seeing things: visual research and material culture
Jon Wagner


How we think about material culture goes hand in hand with how we think about culture, and it also shapes how we approach visual studies of culture and social life. As I will explore below, these definitional matters are also matters of theory. Propositions about the relationship between culture, materiality, and visibility implicate ideas about how people live, what they care about, who they are, what they see, and how they look.

Many sociologists, anthropologists, and lay communities think of material culture as the physical artifacts of a particular group of people. This ‘world of things’ includes foodstuffs, clothing, tools, family photographs, decorative beadwork or tattoos, ...

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