Visual Methods and Intersectional Research: The Advantages and Challenges of Using Participatory Visual Methods to Research Intersectionality

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Laura GOBEY, Deakin University, Australia
This paper discusses the benefits and limitations of visual participatory methods specifically the use of images. It suggests that intersectionality provides a theoretical and/or methodological framework for the incorporation of images as research data. However, this incorporation of images into sociological research is not done without its challenges. Photography is an important element in visual methods, whether this takes the form in photo-elicitation, photovoice, ethnographic researcher produced images or the use of pre-existing images, to name a few. Photovoice particularly has close ties with feminist theory and intersectionality has been argued to be one of the most important theoretical contributions to feminist studies and other related disciplines, yet there is still plenty of scope to develop methods appropriate for researching this theory. This paper will discuss the fieldwork stages and intial findings of my PhD research which investigates the lives and aspirations of young African migrant women in Melbourne, Australia, aged 18 to 25 years old through an intersectionality framework and using the combination of participatory visual methods and biographical methods. The participants in my study are asked to take photographs of their current realities and of those things that symbolise their aspirations. These images are uploaded onto a digital platform, taking the form of an online diary. The diaries are then being used to form the questions asked during semi-structured in-depth interviews with these young women, similar to those techniques of the diary-interview method and photo-interview/photo-elicitation method. I will highlight the advantages that I have found of this method for intersectional research in particular, as well as discuss some of the limitations and challenges of adopting participatory visual methods.