Chapter 6 - Book 3

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Using visual data in research on childhood

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Childhood researchers use a variety of different sources to analyse different types of data In more recent years there has been an increased use in data known “visual data”, for example video recordings, photographs, maps and some material objects
The term visual data can be quite controversial and difficult to define It could be said there are two main categories which define visual these are, images or objects. Objects include buildings and anything in or around them such as, gardens, rooms, furniture, layout, toys and household equipment to name a few. In comparison visual images could include paintings, drawings, photographs and in addition images which are now viewed by the Internet or videogames
Many types of visual data are accompanied by captions or text, for example on websites. The text helps identify the meaning of an image and what its intended purposes it also draws attention to such images The position of the image and the tax will vary depending on the function in relation to each other. The same could be said for material objects such as crockery and passes often display the makers name or some other information on the bottom. Many material objects also come with instructions for use
An approach used to analyse non-verbal signs and images was originally described as “semiotics”, this term describes “the study of signs” and was one of the early and influential approaches used to analyse images The idea of semiotics originated from the fact that we all constantly “read” many different types of non-verbal features within our environment and we will interpret these messages or implications accordingly. One example is the message that the over sexualisation of young people’s clothes sends out to others, for example suggesting they are adults all even suggesting they are sexually active
Rose (2012) talks about how it is important to establish the relationships between images and objects a time he refers to as “”compositional interpretation” For example photographs cannot be considered as a direct representation of the people or places in them because photographs normally display or serve a purpose. In addition they are often different reasons why certain images are taken and this will also contribute to its meaning. For example, family photographs all serve a different purpose to photographs taken by the police or as part of a photo shoot
Images and objects we often quickly process and without considering how or why they have been produced In the production of most images and objects there is much effort involved in the production process to ensure the correct context or purposes are viewed or utilised
When considering visual data for research there is often a distinction between two different types of data Firstly there is visual data produced specifically for research purposes and secondly there is visual data produced by others which can be used as research data for example websites such as UNICEF.
Researcher initiated data has been gathered in a way that the researcher can interpret and assess for their needs For example many childhood researchers now invite children and young people to take photographs or record videos to highlight social interactions and documents their lifestyle conditions. Such data can provide a more accurate insight than relying solely on fieldnotes audio recordings alone.
Allan (2005) describes a method she names “photographic diary method” in order to study how “high achieving girls” manage and negotiate their identities within the school environment. In this research she provided disposable cameras and asked them to illustrate their daily school lives. Researchers may also asked children to produce maps, scrapbooks, drawings or even make video diaries as a way of displaying their experimental worlds. However it is important to consider and interpret our own conclusions to such data rather than using the researchers conclusions at face value
There can be many different issues that we must consider when interpreting a video recordings before reaching conclusions There were at least three main points we must consider when viewing video data. Firstly, people can behave differently when they know they are being recorded,this is known as reactivity meaning they are reacting to the people researching them. Even if they do not act differently there may be subtle differences such as they may dress more smartly or behave more politely than normal. Secondly, a video can only focus on small areas of activity. Therefore, the camera may only show certain clips in which to base our assumptions and interpretations on. Lastly, video recordings require a great deal of processing and analysing which takes a long time,This suggests that the data observed is only a very small sample of what was actually viewed.
It is important to consider how visual data that was already available is produced as it often involves a very complex production process involving many people and a variety of tasks in order to specifically encourage us to take them at face value For example Kehily and Maybin (2011) discuss how when creating videos for this module the main purpose was to provide children with a voice to share their daily lives and experiences across a wide range of social and cultural context. However there was a lot of and mediating between a wide range of people involved in the production such as producers, is technicians and academics not to mention the limits of the technologies involved. Therefore it is important to remember that data that is already available in the form of images and objects have always been produced in a particular manner from particular purpose
Audiences will respond differently to visual images and objects depending on how they construct them in terms of their own assumptions on how, why, whom produced them For example is in the example of UNICEF some may dismiss the image as propaganda or some may take them at face value and not consider the particular message that the charity is trying to portray. These different meanings will change depending on the individual, therefore it is important to remember that people will respond and interpret images differently depending on their own cultural and social experiences.
There are many debates over whether images and text says have predetermined meanings or whether they are constructive by the individuals and audiences viewing them, therefore much research has been done regarding audiences for television and film productions It was noted, that the message or interpretation that an audience will make depend on factors such as how interested they are in it, why they are interested in it and their expectations they had from it and also if they were familiar with any of the people in it already. In addition it appeared that most predominant messages received or constructed by audience members related to specific characters or images and objects of the desired representation concerned. Predominantly most research has been done with television audiences to try and understand their reactions after watching certain program, for example the more recent show “gogglebox” which interviews families after they have watched particular television programme to see their reactions to different clips they have seen.
All different forms of social and educational research will carry ethical issues to varying degrees and severity However there are some issues which can be identified which should be considered when conducting research. Firstly it is essential to ensure that no harm is inflicted on to the participants and it should be avoided or minimised at all costs. Secondly there autonomy also is respected by gaining informed consents for their participation. And lastly that their privacy is protected
Visual data does not involve serious ethical debates because generally most data is being collected from sources which are publicly available However if children and young people are encouraged by researchers to take their own pictures or collect information from the Internet ethical issues could arise about sexual content and suitability of material
However some forms of visual data can raise many difficult ethical issues. For example taking photos or recording videos of children has recently become very sensitive activities across different societies It is difficult to protect such images all recordings and also to respect the privacy of the children, because they are likely to be easily identified by people that neither and also by others
To resolve such issues it is a common strategy to seek informed consents before taking any photographs or recording videos however this does not avoid all the potential problems that visual data can cause It can be quite difficult to even gaining informed consent especially when young children are photographed or recorded, the key issue here is who should get the permission. For example in schools should be head teacher, school governors, the local authority or should it be the parents and the children themselves making decisions and pounds informed consent and photographs or filming
In addition, it could be said that it is difficult to know what actually suffices as informed consent in the case of visual data Because consent can only be given by somebody who is well-informed and visual data may require some technical knowledge before an informed decision can be made for example Prosser (2002), discusses how there are many ploys and techniques used by the directors when creating film productions and the outcome of the film cannot always be predicted
Therefore how images are produced and how they are interpreted by different audiences will also depend on the view the researchers trying to portray and the ability of the participants who give informed consent whilst having reliable knowledge and understanding of the purpose For example getting informed consent from a child and what is wait to give it as against the judgements of parents, school authorities or even the researcher can be contested matter. On one side of the argument it could be said that children are not able to give informed consent because they do not necessarily understand the likelihood of harm and therefore it is often argued that adults are better placed to make such decisions. On the other hand many argued that the autonomy of children shows they are capable in making such judgements and there is much preconception arising from Western societies to be “risk averse”. Therefore it is generally the practice that both children and adults are given informed consents when research involves the use of visual material. However individual circumstances will also need to be considered.
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Chapter 1 - Book 3
Chapter 3 - Book 3
Chapter 2 - Book 3
Chapter 4 - Book 3
Chapter 2 - Book 1
Chapter 4 - Book 1
Book 2 Chapter 1
Chapter 4 - Book 2
Chapter 2 Book 2
Book 2 - Children and Young people’s cultural worlds
Chapter 3 - Book 2