Chapter 17: Schools in Focus: Photo Methods in Educational Research
Louisa Allen Picture methods are diverse and can include the use of cameras (Dixon, 2008), drawings (White et al., 2010), cartoons (Warburton, 1998), videos (Holliday, 2004; White, Chapter 23, this volume) and diagrams (Crilly et al., 2006). This chapter is concerned with photo methods as one form of picture method within educational research. Although photo methods have been an increasingly popular strategy for social scientists over the past ten years (Clark-Ibanez, 2004), their use in educational research has been piecemeal and largely unchartered. Rather than mapping a comprehensive history, this chapter seeks to illuminate aspects of the landscape of photo methods in education. It addresses some key questions about this method within the specific setting of schooling. The chapter asks what is distinctive about photo methods compared with conventional research methods? For what purpose and how have photo methods been employed by educational researchers? And, what challenges do researchers wishing to employ photo methods in education face? SITUATING PHOTO METHODS WITHIN VISUAL RESEARCH Vision is a predominant way of knowing in contemporary western society that is largely taken for granted (Hansen-Ketchum and Myrick, 2008). As Berger (1977) has famously noted, ‘Seeing comes before words . . . and establishes our place in the surrounding world’(Berger, 1977, p. 7). A prioritization of the visual is evidenced in what has been conceptualized as ‘the bombardment and saturation of contemporary societies with images’(Fischman, 2001, p. 29). This phenomenon is partly due to the increasing availability of visually sophisticated technologies such as digital cameras, internet...
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