Ozanne, Moscato & Kunkel (2013). Transformative Photography: Evaluation and Best Practices for Eliciting Social and Policy Changes.

Ozanne, J. L., Moscato, E. M., & Kunkel, D. R. (2013). Transformative Photography: Evaluation and Best Practices for Eliciting Social and Policy Changes. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 32(1), 45–65. doi:10.1509/jppm.11.161
“In 1888, police reporter Jacob Riis used the medium to record New York City’s crime-ridden and impoverished slums. His photographs coalesced public opinion and led to greater enforcement of existing laws and the creation of new building codes and apartment regulations. Sociologist Lewis Hine’s photographs of underage workers helped inspire the first federally sanctioned child labor laws in 1916 (Collier and Collier 1986). … Ordinary citizens use digital photographs to record extraordinary sights, such as the catalytic images disseminated during the ‘Arab Spring’ (Howard and Hussain 2011).” (p 45)
[“A Conceptual Overview of Participant and Transformative Methods” …]
“On the low end of power sharing, the researcher may take photographs and engage the participants in interpretation (Heisley and Levy 1991), or the participants may take photos and then the researcher may select, analyze, and determine the use of the photos (Yamashita 2002). On the high end of power sharing, the participant and the researcher may collaborate throughout the research process, even going so far as to coauthor articles (Holbrook et al. 2001).” (p 46)
[“Photo Elicitation, Autodriving, and Reflexive Interviews” …]
“… active role of participants in constructing the meaning of photos during interviews. Specifically, the interview involves a dialogue between the researcher and the participant as they explore their diverse but overlapping frames for understanding the images (Prosser and Loxley 2008).” (p 46)
[“Photovoice” …]
“According to Wang and Burris (1997, p. 370), the goals of photovoice are ‘(l) to enable people to record and reflect their community’s strengths and concerns, (2) to promote critical dialogue and knowledge about important community issues through large and small group discussion of their photographs, and (3) to reach policy makers.’ Photovoice is theoretically grounded in the work of critical educator Paulo Freire …” (p 46)
“Photovoice methodology begins by asking community members to photograph their lived daily realities (Wang and Burris 1997). … Individual participants then discuss their photos with the researcher by explaining what is happening and why they took the photo. … participant photographers usually gather for group analysis of their photos to identify shared issues.” (p 47)
[“An Empirical Analysis of Prior Studies Using Photography” …]
[“Marginalized Groups” …]
“For example, researchers working with Huu-ay-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island credit photography with helping them gain access, foster trust, and build capability within the community to promote projects on health and well-being (Castleden, Garvin, and Huu-ay-aht First Nation 2008).” (p 48)
[“Visually Skilled” …]
“As Booth and Booth (2003, p . 432) note , ‘photography as an activity emphasizes action over cognition (we `take` photos after all) …'” (p 48)
[“Individual Agency” …]
“Agency is the capacity and power to act (Giddens 1984).” (p 49)
[“Table 1. Research Processes, Workbench Issues, and Best Practices for Transformative Outcomes by Levels of Agency” …]
[“Individual agency” (from table) …]
“Research Processes: Selection of substantive focus; … Selection of photos; … Interpretation of meaning; … Workbench Issues: Do participants gain therapeutic benefits from documenting their experiences?; … Does the process lead to new understandings? … Best Practices for Transformative Outcomes: Carefully document how power was shared to facilitate participants’ input; expose underlying assumptions of power and roles that inhibit or facilitate power sharing and collaboration.; … Measure pre- and postunderstandings.” (p 49)
[“Group agency” (from table) …]
“Best Practices for Transformative Outcomes: … Remove information that may be damaging to specific individuals or may serve to further marginalize the group.” (p 49)
[“Community agency” (from table) …]
“Research Processes: Establish community partnerships and engage social networks of influence; Select, interpret, and organize public presentation; Communicate and educate on findings; Workbench Issues: How do research findings get translated into sustainable community interventions?; How can the visual images inspire broader social action?; What are the trade-offs between participants and professionals generating materials?; What are the best ways for educating relevant stakeholders? Best Practices for Transformative Outcomes: Preplanning activities should include identifying and getting to know key players in relevant local organizations, allowing adequate time; identify politicians interested in the issue and invite them to participate early in the research process.; … get informed consent to use photos in public and published displays.” (p 49)
“… just whose voice is heard is significantly influenced by how much power the informants have throughout the research process to frame the issues examined and to select, analyze, and interpret the photos. Expressing ideas is a learned skill, and researchers cannot reverse years of oppression by merely handing participants a camera (Packard 2008) .” (p 50)
[“Best Practices and Workbench Issues” …]
“Researchers need to reflect and report on the power relationships in which they ceded and did not cede power (and why) and to avoid romanticizing that inequity can somehow be righted with the gift of a camera.” (p 50)
[“Group Agency” …]
“Similarly, Rhodes and Hergenrather (2007, p. 984) employ questions to examine the problems identified and explore their root causes: ‘(l) What do you see in this photography? (2) How does this photograph make you feel? (3) What do you think about this? and (4) What can we do collectively?’ Such approaches are grounded in the idea of conscientization in which people shift from a view of themselves as a passive object of history to an active agent of change (Freire 1970).” (p 51)
“Freirean critical pedagogy also advocates for group dialogue as important for forming the critical consciousness needed for social change (Freire 1970, 1973).” (p 51)
[“Community Agency” …]
“… best practices are the early identification of community partners who want deeper insights into local problems and have the institutional resources and capabilities to implement changes.” (p 52)
“Such initiatives are more likely to be successful if the researcher establishes an ongoing presence in the community throughout the research process. … In Castleden, Garvin, and Huu-ay-aht First Nation’s (2008) study of indigenous people’s health practices, the Huu-ay-aht Council navigated the negative and charged history of research on native peoples by appointing an advisory committee to work with the outsider researchers , represent the community interests, and recommend participants …” (p 52)
[Would inculcation in photographic methods and culture affect native cultural outcomes? Probably. –oki …]
“Strack, Magill, and McDonagh (2004) offer recommendations to improve the quality of the final photos and exhibit, including having regular hands-on photographic exercises, taking participants to professional exhibits, and even having professional photographers critique and coach the participant photographers.” (p 53)
[“Outcomes of Promotion and Education and Best Practices” …]
“The promotional and educational results following publication would be of great value to other researchers.” (p 54)
[“Extending the Framework to Participatory Video” …]
“Drawing on the theories of self by George Herbert Mead, Crocker (2003) suggests that film helps people understand the ‘I,’ my own self-understanding, in contrast with the ‘me,’ other people’s understanding of who I am.” (p 55)
[“Ethical Considerations and Best Practices” …]
“Poststructuralist researchers reject the search for more objective methods and instead seek greater balance by conducting studies in collaboration with participants (Packard 2008) . This democratization of the research process is, in part, motivated by a desire to broaden the ethical agenda beyond protecting participants to also helping research participants so that they can achieve some of their own objectives (Ozanne and Anderson 2010). Yet, in this search for higher ethical ground, researchers relinquish more control and power to participants, and new pitfalls emerge. … Few ethical guidelines exist to direct visual researchers (for exceptions, see Prosser and Loxley 2008 ; Wang and Redwood-Jones 2001).” (p 56)
“Previously, we argued that photography is particularly well suited to groups that are marginalized or lack verbal skills; yet these groups may have greater problems understanding consent forms and giving informed consent (see the Appendix, ‘Visually Skilled’).” (p 56)
“Public displays of photographs may expose them or their vulnerabilities, leading to increased persecution from the community and further marginalization.” (p 56)
“Expectations for the use, control, and ownership of photos and videos should be explicated in a consent form. Best practices include using advisory boards made up of community members, experts, and experienced researchers to offer guidance and allowing participants to edit inaccurate or damaging photos or videos (Crocker 2003).” (p 56)
“Ideally, participants should be actively involved in decisions involving the selection, editing, and display of their materials for public display.” (p 56)

Selected References

  • Booth, Tim and Wendy Booth (2003), “In the Frame: Photovoice and Mothers with Learning Difficulties,” Disability & Society, 18 (4), 431-42.
  • Castleden, Heather, Theresa Garvin, and Huu-ay-aht First Nation (2008), “Modifying Photovoice for Community-Based Participatory Indigenous Research,” Social Science & Medicine, 66 (6) , 1393-1405.
  • Collier, John and Malcolm Collier (1986), Visual Anthropology: Photography as a Research Tool. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
  • Crocker, Stephen (2003), “The Fogo Process: Participatory Communication in a Globalizing World,” in Participatory Video: Images That Transform and Empower, Shirley A. White, ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 122-41.
  • Freire, Paulo (1970), Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Myra Bergman Ramos, trans. New York: Continuum.
  • Freire, Paulo (1973), Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Continuum.
  • Giddens, Anthony (1984), The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Heisley, Deborah D. and Sidney J. Levy (1991), “Autodriving: A Photoelicitation Technique,” Journal of Consumer Research, 18 (3), 257-72.
  • Holbrook, Morris B., Debra Lynn Stephens, Ellen Day, Sarah M. Holbrook, and Gregor Strazar (2001), “A Collective Stereographic Photo Essay on Key Aspects of Animal Companionship: The Truth About Dogs and Cats,” Academy o f Marketing Science Review, [available at http://www.amsreview.org/articles/holbrookO 1- 2001.pdf].
  • Howard, Philip N. and Muzammil M. Hussain (2011), “The Role of Digital Media,” Journal of Democracy, 22 (3), 35-48.
  • Ozanne, Julie L. and Laurel Anderson (2010), “Community Action Research,” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 29 (Spring), 123-37.
  • Packard, Josh (2008), “‘I’m Gonna Show You What It’s Really Like Out Here’: The Power and Limitation of Participatory Visual Methods,” Visual Studies, 23 (1), 63-77.
  • Prosser, Jon and Andrew Loxley (2008), “Introducing Visual Methods,” working paper, National Centre for Research Methods.
  • Rhodes, Scott D. and Kenneth C. Hergenrather (2007), “Recently Arrived Immigrant Latino Men Identify Community Approaches to Promote HIV Prevention,” American Journal of Public Health, 97 (6), 984-85.
  • Wang, Caroline C. and Mary Ann Burris (1997), “Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment,” Health Education & Behavior, 24 (3), 369-87.
  • Wang, Caroline C. and Yanique A. Redwood-Jones (2001), “Photovoice Ethics: Perspectives from Flint Photovoice,” Health Education & Behavior, 28 (5), 560-72.
  • Yamashita, Sampei (2002), “Perception and Evaluation of Water in Landscape: Use of Photo-Projective Method to Compare Child and Adult Residents’ Perceptions of a Japanese River Environment,” Landscape and Urban Planning, 62 (1), 3-17.


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