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Reframing Visual Social Science
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Book description

The burgeoning field of 'visual social science' is rooted in the idea that valid scientific insight into culture and society can be acquired by observing, analyzing and theorizing its visual manifestations: visible behavior of people and material products of culture. Reframing Visual Social Science provides a well-balanced, critical-constructive and systematic overview of existing and emerging modes of visual social and cultural research. The book includes integrated models and conceptual frameworks, analytical approaches to scrutinizing existing imagery and multimodal phenomena, a systematic presentation of more active ways and formats of visual scholarly production and communication, and a number of case studies which exemplify the broad fields of application. Finally, visual social research is situated within a wider perspective by addressing the issue of ethics; by presenting a generic approach to producing, selecting and using visual representations; and through discussing the specific challenges and opportunities of a 'more visual' social science.


‘A remarkably readable, yet highly scholarly exposure of approaches to research that open up the riches of contemporary and historical sources of visual culture. This book will be of great value to anyone involved at the cutting edge of carrying out visual research. They will find in it practical guidance, critical scholarship and encouragement to go further into this exciting field of study.’

Catherine Burke Source: University of Cambridge

‘Reframing Visual Social Science offers a fresh, powerful and theoretically sophisticated perspective on the visual turn that’s been reshaping social research for the past fifteen years. Focusing on the seam between visual evidence and visual representation, Pauwels examines a cluster of contrasting points of view that can discourage or distort visual approaches to the social sciences. Rather than pushing these contradictions aside, however, Pauwels embraces them as opportunities for systematic analysis. Through a combination of case studies and theoretical essays, he articulates that analysis as a comprehensive framework for understanding materials and research practices that are all too often treated sui generis - including photographic field work, ethnographic film, the analysis of found photographs, participatory media projects, and image-rich research reporting. The result is a path-breaking book that links existing treatments of visual social research with new possibilities and perspectives and has a great deal to offer both beginning and mature scholars.’

Jon Wagner - Professor Emeritus, School of Education, University of California, Davis

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