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Visual Methods in Social Research

Visual Methods in Social Research

Second Edition

May 2015 | 208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The Second Edition of this popular text confirms the book’s status as an important forerunner in the field of visual methods.

Combining the theoretical, practical and technical the authors discuss changing technologies, the role of the internet and the impact of social media. Presenting an interdisciplinary guide to visual methods they explore both the creation and interpretation of visual images and their use within different methodological approaches.

This clear, articulate book is full of practical tips on publishing and presenting the results of visual research and how to use film and photographic archives.

This book will be an indispensable guide for anyone using or creating visual images in their research.
The trouble with pictures

An introductory example

Unnatural vision

Reading narratives

Formal readings

Planning a research project with visual methods

On Television

Visual forms produced I: representations of society

Interpreting Forest of Bliss

Still and moving images

Visual forms produced II: representations of knowledge



Diagrams of Nuer lineages

Visual forms encountered

Encountering 'indigenous' media

The image as evidence

'Us' and 'them'?

Object and representation

The materiality of visual forms

Displaying family photographs

Exchanged goods

Market exchange

Size matters

Transformations: digitisation and computer-based media

Digital manipulation

Digital pornography: constraining the virtual

Digital pornography: exchange and circulation

Silk thread to plastic bags

Researching image use and production in social contexts

Watching television

Soap opera in India and Egypt

Television as social presence

Doing things with photographs and films

Photo-elicitation with archival images

Photo-elicitation with contemporary images

Learning from photo-elicitation


Working with archival material

Photographic archives and picture libraries

Film archives


Creating images for research


A ladder climbed then discarded

Documentary exploration

Documentary control

Collaborative projects

Indigenous media collaborations

Collaborative after effects

Ethics and visual research

Ethical review


Returning images


Presenting photographs

The photographic essay

Presenting ethnographic and other films

Study guides and other contextualisation

Databases and digital images

Can computer see?

Multimedia projects

Interacting with Yanomamo


The state of visual research

The place of visual research

The nature of visual research


This continues to be a key text for work with and on the visual. Highly recommended and not to be missed by anybody wanting to understand what images mean, both practically and theoretically.

Arnd Schneider
Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

A classic text for undergraduates and practitioners interested in using visual materials in social research. The emphasis on theory and practice makes it an enduring work for anyone approaching visual sociology or visual anthropology.

John Aitken

This excellent new edition provides a clearly structured and accessible introduction to the research potential of the visual, as both object of study and method. It is richly illustrated with examples, from archival photographs and ethnographic films to new social media, which demonstrate how a critical and reflexive visual sensibility can expand the social research imagination.

Darren Newbury
Professor of Photographic History, University of Brighton

This revised edition of Visual Methods in Social Research builds on earlier strengths with a series of welcome and contemporary updates. Well structured, engagingly written and full of helpful methodological scaffolding, this enjoyable guide will be of great help to scholars and students committed to developing their visual literacy.

Mark Turin
Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

The book sets out to provide views from an anthropological base, in relation to the visual, that would be useful for researchers across diverse disciplines such as sociology, education, health, and cultural geography. The first edition of Visual Methods in Social Research was presented to readers where the visual path was less travelled, now it has become a path far more travelled, across disciplines and approaches. For this reason, a second edition was timely and I am sure that it will provide a useful map and guide for students, researchers and practitioners who incorporate visual materials in their projects. ????????????????????? ???????????

William G Feighery
Visual Methodologies

This is a really interesting and practical book for students interested in conducting visual research methods. It is also very accessible to students who are new to research.

Dr Cristina Costa
Department of Education, University of The West of England
November 21, 2018

Visual Methodologies by Gillian Rose is one of the best introductions to the field of visual analysis. It provides a good overview of different methods and methodological approaches, while also critically assessing them from the author's own standpoint. The fourth edition is again expanded by many chapters and I think it is wonderful to see how the author further develops her theoretical approach towards the visual. The clear language and the many examples provided throughout the book make it a wonderful and interesting read, not only for those interested in researching the visual.

Ms Dorothea Born
Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna
May 18, 2017

Not suitable to curriculum.

Professor Ewald Mittelstaedt
Engineering and Business Managment, South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences
May 1, 2016

The front cover for this book is really apt and really makes you want to engage further. Likewise within the text the pictures provide really good links to the text. This book is really useful as I am trying to encourage students to use more creative approaches in their dissertation methodology.

Mrs Claire Kathryn Pescott
Early Years and Education, University of South Wales (Glamorgan)
September 14, 2016

This is a very good book which I shall be recommending to students who wish to undertake visual research, however it is not so useful for students whose main task is a literature review of research.

Miss Suzanne Dawn Spooner
Cardiff School Of Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University
September 13, 2016

Marcus Banks

Marcus Banks is Professor of Visual Anthropoloigy at the University of Oxford. Having completed a doctorate in social anthropology at the University of Cambridge, with a study of Jain people in England and India, he trained as an ethnographic documentary filmmaker at the National Film and Television School, Beaconsfield, UK.   He is the author Using Visual Data in Qualitative Research (2007) and co-editor of Rethinking Visual Anthropology (1997, with Howard Morphy), and Made to be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology (2011, with Jay Ruby), as well as publishing numerous papers on visual research.   He has... More About Author

David Zeitlyn

David Zeitlyn is Professor is Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford. He has been working with Mambila people in Cameroon since 1985 on various research topics including traditional religion, sociolinguistics, kinship and history. In 2003/4 he was the Evans-Prichard Lecturer at All Souls College, Oxford presenting a series of lectures on the life-history of Diko Madeleine, the first wife of Chief Konaka of Somié village (see In recent years he started to work with Cameroonian photographers. In 2005 this led as part of Africa'05, to an exhibition of two Cameroonian studio photographers at the... More About Author

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