Visual imagery has an expanding role in social science research methods. Traditionally, visual data in social sciences has related to light capture, lens-based cameras with the researcher consciously or unconsciously framing the recorded image. These images were assumed to be true. More recently, social scientists, using participatory method to put cameras in the hands of their research participants to escape the researcher’s bracketing subjectivity. Recently, visual inquiry has expanded beyond the camera and embraced multiple forms of visual making that include image creation and manipulation. With these changes, there is a greater recognition that an image is not a passive record of an external reality. Instead, the researcher and research participants actively make images in the process of inquiry. Furthermore, new materialisms theory expands a conception of a research participant. The materials that comprise a visual image have their own agency and directly affect how an audience interprets the image. The materiality of an image can render meaning that is different from the creator’s intention.
Keeping in mind the needs of a researcher who has little or no formal training in the visual art, but who is nevertheless interested in applying the visual imagery that today’s ubiquitous digital technology readily affords, this course will offer criteria for the use of visual methods in qualitative inquiry that will help researchers sharpen their analytical skills. Analyzing images requires an understanding of tacit knowledge: sensory, pre-linguistic embodied empirical evidence.
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The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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