Visual Methods in the Social Sciences: Refugee Background Young People

By Julie Matthews and Parlo Singh.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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 analytical 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.

Keywords: Visual Methods, Visual Research, Refugee Background Young People, Globalisation, Resilience

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 10, pp.59-70. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.656MB).

Julie Matthews

Director of Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Julie Matthews is Director of Research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Associate Director of the Centre for Sustainability at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She is sociologist and education researcher whose current research projects focus on: Higher education and sustainability; Animal philosophy; Climate change and adaptive capacity; International Education and Japanese diaspora.

Prof. Parlo Singh

Dean, Griffith Graduate Research School, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Parlo Singh is Dean of Griffith Graduate Research School. Professor Singh's research research is in the field of sociology of education, with a particular focus on issues of cultural identity and global cultural flows. Empirically she is interested in educational policy - the politics of policy formation, implementation and traction. She is also interested in educational practices - the politics of knowledge construction and dissemination in schools, training centres, online environments.

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