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Visual Methodologies

Visual Methodologies
An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials

Third Edition
Additional resources:

408 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The Third Edition of An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials, a bestselling critical introduction to the study and analysis of visual culture, has been fully revised and updated. Each chapter retains its rigorous examination and demonstration of an individual methodology, while continuing to be clear in structure and lucid in style. Reflecting changes in the way society consumes and creates its visual content, new features include:

  • A Companion Website featuring additional examples of digital and social media, and moving images
  • Pedagogical enhancements including full color images, extended further reading, and updated case studies and visual examples
  • An additional chapter and expanded coverage on social and new media, and more information on mass media in general (TV, Print, Broadcasting)
  • An expanded focus on how each method can be used in relation to a range of different visual materials
  • An additional chapter on how to use visual materials for research and the presentation of research findings

A now classic text, the book appeals to undergraduates, graduates, researchers and academics in all subjects looking to understand and clearly grasp the complex debates and ideas in visual analysis and interpretation.

Chapter 1: Researching with Visual Materials - A Brief Survey
An Introductory Survey of 'the Visual'

Understanding the Social Effects of Visual Materials

Three Criteria for a Critical Visual Methodology

Chapter 2: Towards a Critical Visual Methodology
The Three Sites of Production, the Image Itself and Its Audiencing

The Site of Production

The Site of the Image

The Site of Audiencing

Chapter 3: How to Use This Book
Reading This Book Selectively on the Basis of Sites and Modalities

Reading This Book Selectively on the Basis of Having Found Some Images

Why you Should Also Read Books Other Than This One

How Each Chapter Works

A Quick Word on Finding Your Images

Another Quick Word, on Referencing and Reproducing Your Images

Chapter 4: 'The Good Eye': Looking at Pictures Using Compositional Interpretation
Compositional Interpretation: An Introduction

Doing Compositional Interpretation: Technologies and the Production of the Image

Doing compositional interpretation: The compositionality of the Image Itself

Compositional Interpretation: An Assessment

Chapter 5: Content Analysis: Counting What You (Think You) See
Content Analysis: An Introduction

Four Steps to Content Analysis

Content Analysis: An Assessment

Chapter 6: Semiology: Laying Bare the Prejudices beneath the Smooth Surface of the Beautiful
Semiology: An Introduction

Choosing Images for a Semiological Study

The Sign and its Meaning-Making Processes in Mainstream Semiology

Making Meaning Socially: Social Semiotics

Semiology: An Assessment

Chapter 7: Psychoanalysis: Visual Culture, Visual Pleasure, Visual Disruption
Psychoanalysis and Visuality: An Introduction

A Longer Introduction to Psychoanalysis and Visuality: Subjectivity, Sexuality and the Unconscious

How is Sexual Difference Visual 1: Watching Movies with Laura Mulvey

How is Sexual Difference Visual 2: From the Fetish to Masquerade

From the Voyeuristic Gaze to the Lacanian Gaze: Other Ways of Seeing

From the Disciplines of Subjection to the Possibilities of Fantasy

Queer Looks


Psychoanalysis and Visuality: An Assessment

Chapter 8: Discourse Analysis: Text, Intertextuality, Context
Discourse and Visual Culture: An Introduction

An Introduction to Discourse Analysis I and Discourse Analysis II

Finding Your Sources for a Discourse Analysis I

Discourse Analysis I: The Production and Rhetorical Organization of Discourse

Discourse Analysis I And Reflexivity

Discourse Analysis I: An Assessment

Chapter 9: Discourse Analysis II: Institutions and Ways of Seeing
Another Introduction to Discourse and Visual Culture

Finding Your Sources for Discourse Analysis II

The Apparatus of the Gallery and the Museum

The Technologies of the Gallery and Museum

The Visitor

Discourse Analysis II: An Assessment

Chapter 10: To Audience Studies and Beyond: Ethnographies of Television Audiences, Fans and Users
Audience Studies: An Introduction

Audiences, Fans and Users

Audience Studies Researching Audiences and Fans

Ethnographies of Visual Objects

Ethnographic Studies of Audiencing: An Assessment

Chapter 11: Making Photographs as Part of a Research Project: Photo-Documentation, Photo-Elicitation and Photo-Essays
Making Photographs as Part of a Research Project: An Introduction




Making Photographs as Part of a Research Project: An Assessment

Chapter 12: Ethics and Visual Research Methods
An Introduction to Research Ethics and Visual Materials

Consent, Anonymity, Copyright




Conclusions: Ethics, Visual Research and Contemporary Visual Culture

Chapter 13: Visual Methodologies: A Review

Sites, Modalities and Methods

Mixing Methods

Useful Reading on Various Visual Materials

List of Key Terms



Companion Website

This website has been specially developed for the third edition to provide further instruction, resources and examples, as well as interactive activities and exercises that allow you to practice specific methods or see them in action.

Use the links on the navigation bar to the left to explore information about the book and its author, additional resources by chapter, and the individual activities and exercises.

Some browsers will require you to enable popups or ActiveX when prompted for the interactive content in this site to work properly.

Several of the pages contain links to freely available documents in PDF format. If you need a PDF reader, try Sumatra or PDF-XChange Viewer.

Your comments and questions about this website are always welcome. Please contact

If you need to carry out research into visuals then Rose's book provides straight forward practical assistance for how to do so. Along with a history of this emerging field she explains clearly how we can deal with the visual from diverse approaches such as content analysis, semiotics, psychoanalysis and discourse analysis, all explained carefully, using examples, in terms of the stages of a research project. This new edition will be key material for undergraduate studies
David Machin
Cardiff University

Clear, comprehensive, theoretically informed, and up to date, Visual Methodologies is an excellent guide to the rapidly growing field of visual research
Theo van Leeuwen
University of Technology, Sydney

Substantially updated to include a wide range of visual media examples, Gillian Rose's Visual Methodologies remains the authoritative introductory text on the methods of visual research. Conveying the richness and excitement of visual culture research, Rose expertly navigates across a range of methodologies, explaining in detail their particular usefulness and limitations through practical examples. For anyone already familiar with Visual Methodologies, this third edition offers a significant reworking of previous content, to include developments in the field of audience/fan cultures, digital media, ethics and image production as research practice. As such, Rose demonstrates the evolving nature of visual research and its methods, and reminds us of the passion involved in its study. It is a must buy for students and scholars alike
Julie Doyle
Principal Lecturer in Media Studies, University of Brighton

As of its first edition Visual Methodologies established itself as one of the better books to obtain a well-balanced introductory overview of different approaches to visual analysis and each revision further adds to its quality.

Rose's book is mainly (except for one chapter) focused on methodologies for analyzing 'found' or pre-existing images (as opposed to producing visual data or analyzing visual phenomena that are not images) but it does that in a very systematic and practical manner, clearly highlighting the exact modus operandi as well as the specific strengths and weaknesses of each of the methods or analytical frameworks. Of particular value is the attention devoted to mixing different methods, as far too often methods and theories are presented as distinct and even incompatible options
Luc Pauwels
Professor of Visual Studies, University of Antwerp

An accessible text book that provides the student of visual culture necessary tools and insights on how to analyze images. The book is unique in bridging a wide range of methodologies from the humanities and the social sciences. Rose's in-depth and systematic discussion of theories and methods, as well as masterful handling of case studies and examples, will provide the reader with a valuable overview
Anneke Smelik
Professor of Visual Culture, Radboud University Nijmegen

Gillian Rose has provided a welcome overview of the state of the field. Visual Methodologies succeeds both as an introductory text, certain to be widely adopted in the classroom, and as a sophisticated refresher course for those who have followed the rapid maturation of this remarkable interdisciplinary discourse
Professor Martin Jay
University of California, Berkeley

A superb overwiew of visual research methods.

Mr Damian Hughes
Art and Design, Staffordshire University
December 15, 2015

This title is one of the best visual methodologies textbooks with it's nice combination of theories and techniques.

Mr Taisik Hwang
Journalism Dept, University Of Georgia
June 13, 2015

Gillian Rose does a very good job at presenting a comprehensive view of the different ways of approaching visual materials for research in the humanities. At once a fantastic teaching resource and a very helpful tool for students.

Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon
Science and Technology Studies, University College London
June 8, 2015

this book is very recommended for further reading to all L3 yr2 learners

Mr Brendon Pettit
creative studies, Great Yarmouth College
March 30, 2015

Useful as a supplemental field work text for more ambitious or creative students

Ms Anna Hawkins
Urban Studies , Sheffield Hallam University
February 12, 2015

This text is an excellent resource for those considering using images within research. It is clear and understandable even to the novice researcher but is also extremely informative for those who have experience.

Mrs Wendy Marsh
School of Health and Social Care, Bournemouth University
December 11, 2014

A clear and accessible explanation of visual research methodologies.

Mr _ Rutherford
Media School, Bournemouth University
November 19, 2014

Provides an extensive overview on visual methodologies

Mr Philipp K. Wegerer
Department of Marketing, University of Innsbruck
December 1, 2015

Provides an extensive review on all visual methodologies

Mr Philipp K. Wegerer
Department of Marketing, University of Innsbruck
December 1, 2015

Gillian Rose

My research interests lie broadly within the field of visual culture. I'm interested in visuality as a kind of practice, done by human subjects in collaboration with different kinds of objects and technologies.One long-term project, which resulted in a book from Ashgate Press in 2010, looked at family photos. I approached family snaps by thinking of them as objects embedded in a wide range of practices. I interviewed women with young children about their photos, and also looked at the politics and ethics of family snaps moving into more public arenas of display when the people they picture are the victims of violence. The book explores the... More About Author