Student Review: Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials

May 24, 2012

Author: Gillian Rose

Edition: Third

Publisher: Sage

Pages: 408

Price: £75.00 and £26.99

ISBN: 9780857028877 and 8884

Visual research methods are becoming ever more popular in the social sciences. In this book, Gillian Rose contends that we see the world through our own eyes and interpretations, influenced by our life experiences. It is through our subjectivities that we as individuals construe the image and our justification of what it means. Rose argues that it is crucial therefore to be both critical and reflexive when using these methods.

Rose also states that the interpretation of visual materials must address the social effects that images can achieve by being both meaningful and affective. This interpretive approach means that there is an emphasis on qualitative methods throughout the book, although the author does dedicate a chapter to content analysis, which is a more structured and systematic way of analysing an image.

At the beginning of the book each chapter is introduced, giving the reader an indication of what is to come. Each is set out in a similar way, making the book consistent in appearance, and each chapter concludes with a summary of what has been covered with some recommended further reading.

Three main themes are focused on: why visual images should be considered in research; the importance of being critical about visual images; and the importance of reflecting on that critique. Woven among these themes is a lot of detail, including a history of the visual, theoretical perspectives, and individual descriptions (along with strengths and weaknesses) of appropriate methodologies to be used with photographs, films, television, advertisements and many other sources.

Rose provides good, concrete examples of how to understand visual images (the production, the image and the audience) and the modalities (technological, compositional, social) that surround them.

This book will serve many audiences well, from a researcher wanting to use photographs to create a discussion in a focus group to an author looking to illustrate an essay. Each visual method discussed in the book is described step by step, making it useful to researchers less experienced in these methods.

Overall, Rose sets out clearly the tools needed to use, understand and interpret visual images in a critical and reflexive manner. A lot of ground is covered in a way that is accessible to the reader, with an array of different examples that all emphasise her critical approach: take an image seriously, think about the social conditioning and effects, and consider your own way of looking at images.

Who is it for? Undergraduates and researchers who have less experience with using visual methodologies.

Presentation: Interesting and accessible.

Would you recommend it? Yes, it is a brilliant introductory text.

Recommended

Sociology in Our Times

Author: Diana Kendall

Edition: Ninth international

Publisher: Cengage

Pages: 768

Price: £49.99

ISBN: 9781111832469

Data Collection: Key Debates and Methods in Social Research

Author: Wendy Olsen

Edition: First

Publisher: Sage

Pages: 248

Price: £65.00 and £22.99

ISBN: 9781847872555 and 2562

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