IVSA conference participation: paper on visual methods

Senior Researcher Ardis Storm-Mathisen attended IVSA (International Visual Sociology Association) conference at Lillehammer, Norway. Bonus was taking part in the local mid-summer celebration. 

Abstract of the presentation: 

Methodological, analytical and theoretical advantages of visual data in social science research examples from self-documentary photo and video methods in the Mediafrica project

Ardis Storm-Mathisen, Centre for Gender Research, University of Oslo

By examples of self documentary videos and photos made by Batswana to portray how media is engrained in their everyday life this paper highlights three advantages of applying such visual methods in social science research. First the methodological advantage; whereas traditional observational methods are difficult in the private sphere and interview methods often leave researchers with only discursive knowledge of what happens there, self-documentary video and photo do provide researchers with some insight into what the language-games and activities of these private spheres are like and consist of in everyday life. Hence, more reliable and ‘thicker’ data from the private spheres. Secondly an analytical advantage; such visual self-documentary methods allow both the participant as well as the researcher in dialogue with the participant, to reflect on and put into words what is going on and what it means. Hence, it improves the validity of insights and interpretations. Thirdly and lastly such data can also help improve our theoretical understanding of embodiment and the socio-material processes in our existence to go beyond the discursive.  The data stems from the Mediafrica project (www.mediafrica.no) and was gathered during a 6 months long fieldwork in Botswana 2015-16. Using a radical practice perspective this study investigates how media is actually used by people and how it affects economy, sociality and gender. A wide fan of methods was applied: photo/video self-documentary, surveys, interviews as well as various other forms of observational methods off and-online.