9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN03 Biographical Perspectives on European Societies

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Working with Visual Methods Building II, C2.02

Visual studies of social problems: teaching and research

Visual sources play a growing role in social research and in teaching as they offer new routes to understanding the past and the present. The ways to construct and define social problems as well as approaches to solving them varied in different periods of history. To do so, it is important to challenge an ideological base of such concepts that often are taken-for-granted, to learn how to consider images as a means to conceive the world, as an important form of social knowledge. What are the differences on men?s and women?s labor? How these distinctions were represented in certain sources and for which purposes? What is the mainstream image of disability in different periods and how it can be challenged? Photographs and episodes from the films, posters and cartoons depicting various images of people in the roles of parents and workers, carers and patients, can be used not just as illustrations or representations but also as an important element of a studied context ? as important as official documents or personal narratives. Engaging students and people representing silent groups into the visual production and analysis has an empowering effect not only because of channeling the trauma and suffering through creative practices but also because private experience becomes narrated and politically meaningful. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the discussion on public sociology training by providing an overview of experiences, theories and methodologies on the visual, by collecting and building knowledge based on visual material and demonstrating in particular its relevance to the study of human behavior, social networks and welfare policies.