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Images, interviews and interpretations: making connections in visual research

Felstead, Alan, Jewson, Nick and Walters, Sally 2004. Images, interviews and interpretations: making connections in visual research. Studies in Qualitative Methodology 7 , pp. 105-121. 10.1016/S1042-3192(04)07007-7

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Barthes (1977) famously argued that the meaning of an image does not become apparent until it is accompanied and explicated by text. Pictures are ambiguous, he suggests, and their interpretation is dependent on words to specify and focus their multiple and uncertain meanings. However, it is also apparent that relationships between texts and images may take many different forms (Becker, 1981; Berger, 1972; Chaplin, 1994; Pink, 2001). Furthermore, for the social scientist, the texts that mediate the meanings of pictures come in two different forms and contexts. There are the words of respondents – captured by interviews, questionnaires and other research devices – and those of social science theory and analysis. Similarly, images may be generated by respondents, by researchers or derived from secondary sources by respondents or researchers. Thus, an examination of the methodological foundations of visual research in social science must address the varied and dynamic interrelationships between pictorial images, interview transcripts and theoretical interpretations, through which meaning is constructed rather than simply found. As Chaplin comments, sociologists make rather than take photographs (1994).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN: 1042-3192
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 07:46

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