Importance of the Visual: ocularcentrist orientation and its research methodology
Stratification department Institute for Social Research Vilnius, Lithuania
The presentation analyses empirical methodology for research of ocularcentrism. Visual culture for a long time was privileged object of semiotics where meanings of objects of culture are analysed. Importance of visuality in Western European culture traditionally was analysed by culture studies. Martin Jay has used the term ocularcentrism to describe centrality of the visual in contemporary Western life and stated that visual culture, more precisely focus on vision, - significant and exceptional feature of Western culture.
However ocularcentrism of Western culture in sociology is usually taken as axiom or based on power of mass media and arguments of other sciences. Methodology of estimation of paramount of vision in respect of other senses was experimented during the research in Lithuania, Latvia and Norway. The methodology is based on analysis of indirect attitudes towards different aspects of personal presentation. For the analysis of attitudes toward visuality the cognitive aspect of value attitudes was used. The questions were formed to elucidate indirect experience and generalised observation rather than individual preferences. This on the first hand allows to avoid stereotype answers that may give the respondent possibility to portray him/her-self as having "good taste" or being prudent person (what is usually happening if we ask about respondent´s own preferences). On the other hand, it allows extension of information validity, because respondents present not their own attitudes, but generalisation of their observations.
Data analysis proved methodology through showing the existence of the relation between behavioural and emotional attitudes towards artefacts of ocularcentrist culture and cognitive ocularcentrism in public and private spheres. Data analysis showed Norwegians to be more ocularcentrism oriented while Lithuanians were oriented to deconstruction of meanings. While regarding local culture as a different one, Lithuanians may see need for deconstruction of meanings of visual materials that seem to be obvious for Norwegians.