Visual Methods in the Social Sciences: Refugee Background Young People
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This article discusses visual research methods trialled with young African background refugees. We suggest here that visual methods offer a useful means of accessing the lives of minority young people, because they resonate with the visually mediated culture they are already familiar with and do not rely entirely on linguistic capacity. Visual methods are thus generative and able to secure participant interest and commitment amongst a group who may not be comfortable with traditional interview or focus group methods. The article observes that visual methods have until recently been neglected in the social sciences, and when they are applied it is often with the intention of undertaking semiotic or discourse analysis. Although the project discussed in this article was initiated with the intention of pursuing this analytic direction, we found that other rewards were to be gained from using visual methods. We discuss the project's unanticipated research directions and its ethical challenges. The article closes by arguing that the reluctance of social science researchers to use visual methods are as much related to the historical development of qualitative research and the efforts of the social sciences to align themselves with empiricism and science, as with the specific limits and challenges of the approach.
The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
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LOTE, ESL and TESOL Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Maori)