Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 36: Photo Essays and the Mining of Minutiae in Consumer Research: ’Bout the Time I got to Phoenix
Morris B. Holbrook Introduction This chapter recommends and justiﬁes an approach to qualitative consumer research that, though used relatively infrequently, has much to recommend it. Speciﬁcally, I propose the usefulness of the photo essay (PE), the collective photo essay (CPE), and/or the collective stereographic photo essay (CSPE) as a way of eliciting material drawn from subjective personal introspection (SPI) in a manner suitably expressed by means of a reﬂexive selfrevelatory narrative. The style of my chapter is itself reﬂexive in that it presents an essay about essays. Hence it illustrates its subject matter in a way that I hope readers will ﬁnd meaningful. It begins with a brief description and defense of SPI and of PE-CPE-or-CSPE. It then presents an example drawn from an interpretation of some of my own recent photographs, especially those of animals at the Phoenix Zoo. Owing to lack of space, this chapter does not include detailed bibliographic references to the literature on photography or to its use by social scientists in general and by consumer researchers in particular. Readers interested in pursuing my own work should consult the list of publications posted online at www1.gsb.columbia.edu/mygsb/faculty/ research/pubﬁles/1100/Holbrook_VITA2004.pdf, where it will be helpful to search for such keywords as ‘photo(graphy)’, ‘stereo(graphy)’, ‘photo essay’, ‘autoethnograph(y)’, and ‘subjective personal introspection’. These publications contain extensive references to the relevant literature. Meanwhile excellent and highly esteemed treatises on photography appear in the work of Susan Sontag (On Photography) and...
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