Twine, F. W. (2016). Visual Sociology in a Discipline of Words: Racial Literacy, Visual Literacy and Qualitative Research Methods (Summary)

This article makes the argument that visual literacy is neglected. There is a need for more training on film and photography methods. The author likens this to a form of academic apartheid. According to Twine, visual methods are typically considered to be a specialty, only employed when an individual graduate student chooses to focus for their dissertation. I agree with the argument that audio and video recording methods are not taught deeply enough in graduate programs. I have been working in general transcription for a little while, and many of the people who run focus groups and interviews sessions have little knowledge of where to place the camera during the session. My graduate school experience was similar, even in an applied program. Much more reading about methods than actual practice, unless a student is incorporating them into a thesis. The key point Twine makes in this article is in comparing visual literacy and racial literacy in the UK. According to Twine, visual literacy was common in multiracial families in the UK who also strived for racial literacy. If you are raising a child between cultures, the visual symbols are more readily teachable than language. Through researching such families, Twine learned the importance of employing visual methods to record the layout of space, for example. This is part of a visual transmission of culture that really does makes sense to capture in-situ. When we are studying experience, a full reconstruction of the environment can be essential. I recently read an article of a Nazi guard who was finally charged with murder after researcher reconstructed the camp and were able to prove he would have seen what was happening there. Twine is spot on in arguing that a deeper understanding of how to use visual methods will make research so much more useful.

Twine, F. W. (2016). Visual Sociology in a Discipline of Words: Racial Literacy, Visual Literacy and Qualitative Research Methods. Sociology, 50(5), 967–974.

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