Volume 9, No. 3, Art. 14 – September 2008

Visual Analysis. New Developments in the Interpretative Analysis of Video and Photography

Hubert Knoblauch, Alejandro Baer, Eric Laurier,
Sabine Petschke & Bernt Schnettler

Abstract: The use of visual research methods has become increasingly widespread throughout the social sciences. From their origins in disciplines like social anthropology and sociology, visual research methods are now firmly entrenched in major fields of inquiry, including sociology, health and nursing studies, educational research, criminology, human and cultural geography, media and cultural studies, discursive and social psychology, management and organisation studies, political science and policy analysis. The rapid development of information technology, facilitating the creation and editing of digitised data, and computer-based techniques for the storage and management of visual data, means that new methodological approaches are being developed and are envisaged for the near future. Some important and promising approaches are presented in this issue by a number of researchers from different angles of the interpretive social sciences.

Key words: visual analysis; videography; photography

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Contributions to this Issue

3. Visual Analysis and its Presentation





1. Introduction

The rapid development of information technology is paralleled by a tremendous increase in the use of visual forms of communication: The digital storage and transmission of images, the availability of video technology and its digital accessibility, the dissemination of visual surveillance technologies or the transformation from textual to visual forms of communication—such as the use of Powerpoint in lectures—turns visualisations in various forms into an integrated part of contemporary culture and everyday life. [1]

While society's use, production and transmission of visual forms of communication have grown, the application of visual research methods has also become increasingly widespread throughout the social sciences. From its early origins in the first half of the twentieth century within social anthropology, where novel technologies of register and reproduction of images were gradually incorporated into the sub-discipline of ethnographic film and, later, visual anthropology, research with visual technologies and on visual data has evolved into other fields in the social sciences. Not only the startling expansion and improvement of visual technologies—miniaturisation, low cost, storage capacity, etc.—but also a theoretic turn that expanded the acceptance of the qualitative approach, made photography, film and video more welcome as research tools in other fields. Accepted as a subjective and reflexive form of qualitative data production, methods based on photography and video are now entrenched in major fields of inquiry, including sociology, health and nursing studies, educational research, criminology, social and cultural geography, media and cultural studies, discursive and social psychology, management and organisation studies, political science and policy analysis. To the degree that visual data are becoming both the subject matter and the methodology of social scientific inquiry, the question as to how we can approach this kind of data in a scientific, analytic or theoretical manner gains increasing importance. The FQS issue presented here attempts to address this challenge. [2]

Although visual data are amenable to numerous methodologies, the contributions to this issue take an approach that is usually characterised as "qualitative": They address the cultural meaning of visual data and relate to the ways in which actors themselves interpret visual data. The majority of the papers included in this edition are based on presentations given at the "Conference on Visual Methods of Analysis". This conference was held in September 2007 at the Technical University of Berlin and organised by Hubert KNOBLAUCH for the European Science Foundation's EUROQUAL-Programme. This programme is dedicated to the improvement, development and dissemination of qualitative methods in the social sciences. In common with the conference, this issue focuses particularly on visual data. By visual data, we refer to any kind of visual material, either produced by actors (such as lay photographs) or social scientists (such as video records of social interactions) that depend in their meaning and significance on the visualised records, be it diagrams, photographical reproductions or video-taped records. [3]

Outside of the social sciences, visual materials are to be found in a wide range of cultural spheres and substantive areas. Thus, they constitute an important part of the arts, and visual materials also play a central role in broadcast, print and new media—a fact that is accounted for by a huge body of studies in these fields. In order to narrow down the question as to how we may handle the analysis of visual data, we decided to focus exclusively on those studies in which the visual aspect lies at the heart of the analysis. For this reason, we have not included media studies. In order to narrow the focus further, we address only two sorts of visual data in this issue: photography and video. Therefore, the topic of the present issue needs to be specified as "Qualitative Methods of Video- and Photo-Analysis". [4]

To those active in these two fields, the reason for this selection is quite obvious. Although both these strands of research are preoccupied with the visual, and although they have a certain tradition of research, there is still little contact between them. It is quite safe to say that Video-Analysis and Photo-Analysis exist in splendid isolation from each another. Moreover, whereas Qualitative Video-Analysis has developed some kind of shared methodological principles, the variety of methodological approaches in the analysis of photography is so vast that a common ground remains to be established. The goal of the afore-mentioned conference, as well as this issue, is to contribute to the development of such a common ground or, at least, to help to bridge the gap between the two. Both fields, we want to argue, are complementary in their deficiencies as well as in their proficiencies. [5]

In fact, there seem to be quite obvious points of contact between the two research areas from which benefits for both are to be expected. On the one hand, Video-Analysis is characterised by a strong focus on setting. The various forms of sequential analysis, practised with video, account for the situatedness of the visual, be it temporally with respect to priority or posteriority or be it spatially with respect to the environment or workplace. As central as the setting is to Video-Analysis, its pursuit of that setting is located in the tradition of textual, linguistic analysis. Although this tradition is being questioned at the moment by the focus on "multi-modality", there is no decisive notion of the visual in Video-Analysis. [6]

Photography, on the other hand, has been adopted by a wide range of approaches within social sciences that focus on the peculiarity of the visual and its specific symbolic structure. The contributions to this issue attempt to bestow a certain order onto this multiplicity. As determined as analysts of photography are to tackle the visual, the reference to the context of the visual datum, i.e. the photography, remains unclear. Where the datum is situated, how it is constructed, in which ways it is embedded in a context of action, mostly remains out of the focus of inquiry. The contributions to this issue loosely collected in the section on photography amply demonstrate this diversity. They also exemplify the difficulties of establishing boundaries between the production and analysis of visual data. Several of the contributions make an innovative use of multi-method approaches, which are centred on the visual in combination with "traditional" qualitative methods. The photo interview, subject informant photos and other forms of collaborative research, photo elicitation, or visual ethnography broaden the category of visual methods or visual research. These terms bring together the uses of visual technologies (photography and video, but also different forms of drawing and illustration) or their outcomes—various visual data forms—within different types of research endeavours, as well as the specific procedures and means of its analysis. Before we over-exaggerate the novelty of this work we should not forget that photography has a long tradition of theorisation and analysis, which many of the papers underline and rely on in their case studies. [7]

Against this background, we hope the focus on these two strands of visual analysis provides for synergetic effects between them. Admittedly, the papers in this issue demonstrate that a persistent and formative gap still exists. It is thus something of a quixotic quest, the collection in one issue that pursues the unlikely goal set in the title: to develop an encompassing methodology for the analysis of visual data. The pursuit of this goal is fruitful not least in collecting the papers met along the way. In the following, we present the contributions to this issue, stressing their respective input to the aforementioned theoretical and methodological issues. Consequently, and in order to emphasise the ongoing process of developing both adequate and reasonable methods, we close with some reflections on desiderata and future challenges for Interpretative Visual Analysis. [8]

2. The Contributions to this Issue

Eight of the papers explore the potentials of visual analysis with photographic material. The diversity of approaches in photo analysis becomes visible in John GRADY's paper. In his rather theoretical and programmatic article, GRADY argues that visual methods are at the crossroads. They can remain in a niche or move into the mainstream by also addressing all people using visual materials. In the social sciences, visual methods encompass photography, video, and graphic representations. With respect to the visual, one has to note that all interpretations that are ontologically dependent on photography require more interpretation. "Looking at" means "being framed by", and this implicates the picture maker who is also considered to be a viewer. For the social sciences, pictures provide us with personal insights as well as with a personal record of spatial and social relationships. On this basis one may raise questions like "how pattern variations occur over time"; "how are social processes organised?", or "what is the role of emotion in social life?" These are issues, GRADY continues, to which visual data can contribute. Methodological discussion should, however, aside from the areas of visual data generation, analysis and interpretation also include solutions for the problem of communicating research findings. Some of these questions can be approached via controlled photo-observation, photo-elicitation techniques and imagery provided by the subjects themselves. Finally, GRADY turns to the question: What remains to be done? Here, he delineates three main areas: (1) evaluating the theoretical and conceptual basis of visual research. (2) Creating public databases for the development and testing of theories. (3) Defining "best practices" for visual research. [9]

In the second contribution, Ralf BOHNSACK attacks the one-sidedness of the "linguistic turn" in the social sciences. Moreover, he complains that pictures have been generally treated as self-referential systems. He suggests, in contrast, distinguishing a form of understanding about pictures from an understanding through pictures. Related to the principals of the documentary method as inspired by the works of German sociologist Karl MANNHEIM, he argues that "understanding" is achieved by shifting perspective from the question of what is in pictures to how pictures show, that means, from iconographic to iconology, from immanent to documentary meanings. Pictures relate to a social space of experience, a habitus that represents a "Weltanschauung". BOHNSACK proposes distinguishing between the habitus of picture representers vs. the habitus of the represented. By way of the suspension of iconographic pre-knowledge one arrives, on the one hand, at communicative knowledge (that is institutional) and at conjunctive knowledge (that is specific). The basis of the social scientific interpretation of pictures is institutionalised or pre-iconographic knowledge as well as the reconstruction of the formal structure of the picture. BOHNSACK illustrates this approach in analysing various photographs, focusing on their formal structure, i.e. their planimetric composition, their perspective projection and their scenic choreography. [10]

K. Neil JENKINGS, Rachel WOODWARD and Trish WINTER ask at what point does the analysis of the visual data begin? This is a fraught question but the authors suggest that in the case of photo elicitation it technically starts with the researcher and the participant beginning to discuss the photographic artefact(s), especially when using the techniques of autodriving, reflexive photography and photo novella. The analysis is emergent from the researcher-participant interaction. JENKINGS et al. use audio-recordings from a UK Economic and Social Research Council research project on military identity. The research included photo elicitation where 16 serving and ex-service personnel from the British Army and Royal Marines were asked to choose 10 photographic images—from their own collections—that they believed best represented their experience in the Armed Forces. Each participant was then interviewed with the focus being on each of the selected photographs. What emerges is that the majority of the participants do not tend to have an analytic view of their photographs, although they do have an "account". Nevertheless, within the interview situation, through the interview and consequent interaction, an initial co-produced analytic "version" of the meaning(s) of the photograph is produced. Through the use of photographic images and the interview audio-recording and transcripts, JENKINGS et al. assert that one can illustrate the interactional nature of this form of analysis and the requirement for reflexive understanding of its production by the analyst. Thus they aim not just at an analysis of the situated co-production of photographic "analysis", but at a contribution to the methodology of photo elicitation as a form of qualitative analysis of visual data. [11]

Bettina KOLB sees in visual data material the potential for an integrative approach to social reality. She discusses the photo interview method of HARPER and WUGGENIGG on the basis of data (photos and interviews) collected in different social and cultural contexts. From health questions to future living scenarios, from problems of the elderly in Vienna to dwellers in Chinese villages and residents of Islamic Mediterranean neighbourhoods in Cairo, Fez and Damascus. She suggests patterns of interpretation levels in data, based on the collected material. With a three step framework—involving, sharing, analysing—specific influences and patterns of data quality can be filtered out and considered in interpretation and analysis. The steps are detailed as follows: (1) Involving: The method represents a successful participatory tool in transdisciplinary projects, where participation and local relevancies are a crucial point of research. The data material represents insights from different societal groups on a given research question. The photos can be analysed as participatory acts and manifesting visual content representing this process. (2) Sharing: The researcher collects authentic data of two different forms, the visual data (photos) and verbal data (interviews). With both forms the understanding of local structures and processes becomes feasible. The researcher, on the one hand, and the respondent, on the other hand, generate and share a certain common knowledge visible in the interview text. (3) Analysing: Photos provide a distance between object and researcher, and introduce certain codes into the field of subjective interest. These visual codes can be analysed with different methods of photo analyses and show societal contexts. KOLB gives examples of data material on all three levels. [12]

Gabriela B. CHRISTMANN elaborates on a methodological approach which combines principles and processes taken from the sociology of knowledge and discourse analysis, thereby aiming at developing a particular method for the visual analysis of photographic materials. Unlike other methods, it does not detach the photos from diverse "naturally constituted" contexts. The core of this method consists in systematically reconstructing the various layers of meaning derived from different contexts of use. The author demonstrates her analytical approach to visual data through a prominent example. As her material vividly shows, Old Dresden ceased to exist in its physical form in February 1945. But the historical image of old Dresden has survived in the citizen's memory despite its physical destruction and its almost complete demolition in the last weeks of the Second World War. By virtue of historic buildings' photographic visualisation, old Dresden has been anchored in the collective memory and even become a model for the city's present restoration and its urban development in the future. The reconstruction of famous buildings like the Frauenkirche and the Zwinger are only some of this process's most visible examples. Buildings, emphasises CHRISTMAN, are artefacts that can be experienced visually and aesthetically. Thus, it is amazing to note that, in the context of public discourses, edifices demand an appropriate representation in their visual and in their aesthetical respects. She argues that, in fact, the visualisation of buildings plays a fundamental role in Dresden's urban discourse. She illustrates how buildings are visually represented in the Dresden discourse, and her analysis elucidates how the visual materials are rife with "visual rhetorical figures" aiming to persuade the recipient of the artefact's inherent beauty or to express the "bereavement" that the destruction of Dresden entails. [13]

Tobias RÖHL and Regine HEBRIK paper on maps in fantasy role-playing games deals with cartographic representations as the means of communicating the imaginary. Drawing on SCHUTZian accounts of intersubjectivity and communication we understand maps as one of many strategies to deal with the problem of "medium transcendencies" posed by communicating with others. The methodology of "sociological hermeneutics" (SOEFFNER) is introduced as the means of approaching maps and the interactions in which they are involved in. In our analyses of maps used in role-playing games we can then show that maps are not only a means of locating oneself but also a means of actively creating a meaningful place in which we are immersed. Thus, maps help to form a sense of belonging in (imaginary) territories which are only given to us in mediated form. [14]

In two of the following papers one can envisage ways of bridging the aforementioned gap between the two research strands: Sarah PINK outlines an agenda for a visual ethnography that seeks to research and represent human experience for both academic and applied audiences. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, she proposes an understanding of visual ethnography practices as forms of place-making. This, she suggests, allows a reflexive, phenomenological and theoretical approach to visual ethnography that focuses on our everyday, celebratory, sensorial and practical engagements with our material and social environments. Such research might be most adequately represented in hypermedia texts which themselves can be theorised as involving place-making practice on various levels and offer opportunities to make (audiovisual) and theoretical text work in combination with each other. As the discussion shows, the approach begins to bridge the gap between the photographic and the video-based presentation insofar as both tend to use ethnography. [15]

Francisco FERRÁNDIZ and Alejandro BAER report on a Spanish social movement, loosely grouped around the idea of the so-called "recovery of historical memories" from the Spanish Civil War. It focuses on locating graves and exhuming corpses of the victims of Franco's repressive policies, both during the Civil War (1936-1939) and also after his victory. With an ethnographic approach, their research focuses on the different forms of public emergence, circulation and consumption of traumatic memory through images in local, regional, national as well as international contexts, taking the exhumations as a methodological departing point. Visual media in exhumation environments are used by the authors. (1) As a tool to record and study the unfolding of traumatic memory in the vicinity of such complex lieux de mémoire: the emergence of improvised ritual choreographies, the establishment of consecrated spaces and symbolic boundaries, as well as the crafting of informal homages and ceremonies. (2) To record and analyse the multiple actions of photographing and video recording of this collective memory unfolding, by different social actors, from journalists to experts to victim's relatives. (3) To record video testimony, a particularly challenging undertaking in this complex milieu, to which the authors devote a specific methodological section of their paper. [16]

Seven papers deal with a variety of questions concerning video analysis. Lorenza MONDADA explores the epistemological, analytical and technological demands on shooting video emerging from a praxeological perspective on social interaction. This perspective is grounded in the possibility not only of observation but of recording social interaction, in order to exploit for analysis, details which are not imaginable but only describable. Forms of organisation are not easily noticeable through careful observation but only transcribable through repeated viewing of video-recorded events. This perspective, emanating again from CA, is grounded in a detailed sequential analysis of the locally achieved organisation of interaction. It draws upon "naturally occurring data" i.e. on recordings of social interactions in their everyday social setting, which are then transcribed and analysed. Audio and, more recently—with the exception of pioneering work by GOODWIN or HEATH—video data have been produced in order to meet these analytical demands. MONDADA and others are particularly concerned with the temporal unfolding of interaction, the contingencies of situated actions, interactional space, flexible participation frameworks, and relevant linguistic and multimodal details. These concerns materialise in a particular way of shooting videos in CA, ethnomethodology and workplace studies. Moreover they have an ongoing interest in engaging with other professional ways of producing video, such as on television or cinema sets, as well as for documentary films. MONDADA relates this interest to the production of continuous access to multimodal details made relevant by participants themselves in the local organisation of their joint action (gestures, facial expressions, glances, body postures, movements, etc.). More particularly, she focuses on some difficulties—both analytical and technical—encountered while video recording complex professional activities involving, not only fragmented spaces, scattered participant frameworks but also, artefacts of different kinds. She provides some examples of difficulties raised by documenting activities involving phenomena at different levels of granularity. For instance, work sessions in which co-participants mobilise artefacts such as documents, visualisations, white boards, or computer screens, looking at them, manipulating them, transforming them. Multi-scope videos, i.e. multiple video sources documenting the same scene, are necessary for a reconstructive analysis of the fine tuned sequential organisation of practices such as looking at, writing notes, writing on the board, filling electronic forms. Examples of video recordings include video data of meetings and of work in call centres and she also presents multimodal transcripts. [17]

Giolo FELE presents a video-analysis of the collaborative production of responses and dispatching on the radio in a medical emergency call centre. He asks, what happens when someone rings an emergency hotline for help? How is the emergency handled? How does the emergency service swing into action? Prompt and competent intervention and assessment of the gravity of the situation happen in a few crucial seconds: these are the quality standards that regulate the organisation of emergency operations centres. For a number of years various groups of social science researchers have carried forward a programme for the systematic study of work using ethnographic and naturalistic methods of analysis. An interest in work is certainly nothing new in the social sciences, and in sociology in particular. What is new, though, is the particular analytical viewpoint from which such research is now conducted. This programme has dispensed with large-scale theorisation and has concentrated on the empirical study of activities and practices, achieving an unprecedented level of detail and analytical exactness. Indeed, only by proceeding at this fine level of detail—made possible by the use of videorecordings—has it been possible to document the extraordinary and subtle collaborative production of work, and to do so at a level which extends well beyond the conscious awareness of people in their everyday routine. This aspect concerns in particular the capacity of the latest generation of studies of work to document the tacit procedures and forms of common-sense reasoning involved in the performance of tasks in concrete work settings. Although we know a great deal about the interaction between caller and call-taker from previous research, we know much less about the social organisation that makes the dispatch possible. The data analysed in this paper derive from a research project in which FELE has been engaged for a number of years on operation centres for the 118 emergency telephone number in Italy. Contrasting the data obtained from audiorecording with the data obtained from videorecording, he shows that a dispatch does not consist purely in information transfer, but is the outcome of intense coordination work among the actors involved face to face and through technological media. [18]

Christian GREIFFENHAGEN reports from an ongoing video-based project that aims to examine the work of mathematicians. He reports on two video-based studies: firstly, graduate lectures in mathematical logic and, secondly, supervision meetings between a professor and his doctoral students. GREIFFENHAGEN argues that questions of method are particularly pertinent when studying "thinking" sciences such as mathematics and theoretical physics, since they do not lend themselves easily to direct observation. Within the sociology of science he states a clear lack of observation-based studies of "thinking" sciences which might be partly accounted for by the fact that such studies raise new, and difficult, methodological questions. In the case of his project he addresses three different types of methodological questions: (1) Questions of setting: where and when should one observe mathematicians (alone in their office or only when talking to colleagues)? (2) Questions of competence: how much of the content of mathematics does the analyst need to understand? (3) Questions regarding the unit of analysis: when analysing video records, what is an adequate "unit' of analysis? Since most qualitative video analysis focuses on relatively short fragments, the author asks if scientific work requires a longer unit of analysis. [19]

Eric LAURIER, Ignaz STREBEL and Barry BROWN contribute an article on video analysis which includes "lessons from professional video editing practices". The authors sketch an ethnomethodological approach to the analysis of video, as suggested by MONDADA, BROTH, HEATH, and GOODWIN. They build on these studies of video analysis as it occurs in the daily business of a work setting, in their case, the video analysis that is part of editing. Drawing on some pilot work for a larger ESRC UK project on video editors at work, they analyse some of the routine work of video editing, and make some suggestion about what social scientists can learn from video editors. Digital camcorders in combination with the editing and playback possibilities of desktop computers mean that video is likely to become as straightforward for social scientists to use in their research as photographs. Conversation analysis has been the longest running body of research to exploit video for more than illustrative purposes. In CA studies video recordings have supplemented audio recordings allowing close examination of the unfolding relationships of gesture, objects and environment with dialogue. Sometimes this development of CA is referred to as video analysis, in this case marking the particular empirical materials being studied. However this leads to some confusion in that conversation analysis was the form of analysis being accomplished by conversationalists, be they members or professional analysts. In this way CA shared a way of studying conversation that had much common with the ordinary language philosophy of J. L. AUSTIN and WITTGENSTEIN. [20]

The contribution by Peter HOLZWARTH and Horst NIESYTO presents the research approach "self-production by media" and exemplifies it referring to the European research project CHICAM (Children in Communication about Migration). The initial point is the assumption that in research contexts children and adolescents should be given the opportunity to express themselves by using photography and video—in addition to verbal forms of expression. The article outlines basic assumptions which are connected with this research approach and presents examples of representational-symbolic and discursive forms of self-expression based on media productions made by children and adolescents with migrant backgrounds. The examples outline the potentials of visual self-expression both for subject-orientated research methods (in research about migration) and in context of identity and self narrations. [21]

Krzysztof T. KONECKI gives an example of applied video analysis. His article focuses on the problem of interactions between domestic animals (pets) and human beings. Based on transcriptions of video recordings of the aforementioned interactions, the author concentrates on the role of touching and gesture in human-pet communicative exchanges. This is followed by reconstructing certain typical social rituals (like invitations or farewells), besides other recurrent forms of interaction and association, expressed in play, spontaneous emotional expressions, repose, walking with animals, walking fights, bathing, that create emotional and social bonds between man and animal. Nonverbal communication is shown as a very important element of creating the human associations and in consequence the unity called "family life" that becomes the joint action in a process. Nonverbal communication creates simultaneously "family identity". As the author shows, the analysis of visual data offers an opportunity to investigate the corporeality and direct interaction of bodies—human and non-human—as basic dimensions of emotional and social bond creation. [22]

Bernt SCHNETTLER and Jürgen RAAB's article on the developments, the state of the art and the pending problems of interpretative visual analysis offers a brief resume of recent developments in the field of interpretative visual analysis with emphasis on the German speaking area and the sociological discipline. It lays a special focus on hermeneutical and genre analysis and on research with audiovisual data. Far from constituting an already closed field, the authors stress the fact that methodological advances in qualitative research based in visual data still face a number of pending quests. This encompasses the sequentiality, complexity and naturalness of videographic data, and extends to the respective methodological challenges for transcription, analysis and presentation of results. [23]

3. Visual Analysis and its Presentation

Gathering articles of different types of visual research, using both photographic and video data, yields an unprecedented opportunity for a methodological discussion on the further development of adequate and practicable methods. The decision to include in this FQS issue both contributions from young researchers and renowned scholars in the field is not only motivated by a desire to show the vivacity of visual analysis, which has been expanding significantly during the last few years within the broader worlds of social sciences. Also, it offers the chance to push the necessary methodological debate a decisive step further, by challenging established practices with innovative proposals. The papers mentioned contribute to this task by suggesting methodological procedures and by exemplifying them through a range of visual data. [24]

In order to open a new path for the presentation of results in visual studies, this FQS issue includes a wide range of attempts to combine visual materials and text. It is the advantage of an electronic journal to be not only able to present a large number of photographs in reasonable quality. As opposed to its paper cousins, the electronic journal has the additional advantage to give access also to video data that can be embedded into the written text. In fact, at this point we enter the question as to how we present data. Whereas clear standards to evaluate the quality of scientific texts have been developed over the past centuries, the requirements for the forms of adequate presentation of visual results are far from being fixed. Obviously, adequacy will have to be evaluated with reference to the specific purpose of combining visual and textual fixations in each research area and discipline. There has been already some methodological debate on this topic. In fact, the last issue of this journal on Performative Social Sciences has made an important contribution to this debate. In this edition, rather than debating the ways and forms of inserting visual material in textual documents, we offer practical suggestions realised in different ways in the respective papers. Consequently, the decision to publish the contributions presented here in FQS has been motivated by the aspiration to promote adequate and practical forms of scientific presentation for visual analyses in Interpretative Studies. We are especially grateful to the editors of FQS for this opportunity and for their support in coping with the immense technical and editorial problems which such enterprise implies. Therefore, this edition not only includes essays that combine in a more or less experimental way photographs, slides of video sequences, video-sequences and texts. [25]

Although this combination of the Visual and the Textual is in the process of becoming conventionalised (as e.g. the printed text with embedded Video slides), it is our conviction that the analysis of the Visual, particular of Video data, needs to develop new forms for the presentation of data. In order to account for this problem, we have included a number of presentations that are primarily visual (and acoustic) that may be understood as experiments in form. (We do not want to suppress the large number of films in the Social Sciences. It is, however, our impression that these films form part of the scholarly knowledge in the Social Sciences and that the attempts to visualise research has to be recovered.) [26]

Roman PERNACK has produced a Video in German and in English that attempts to sketch some results of a videographic research project on Powerpoint presentation. The research project not only used video but also the subject-matter of the project draws strongly on visualisation. Moreover, visualisation (i.e. slides) constitutes the specific element of the subject matter (as opposed to e.g. presentations read from the paper) leads to the strongly visual character of the data. This visuality almost demands a visual form of presenting the results of the analysis. This is, indeed, what PERNACK does in his video, focusing on some features of Powerpoint presentations highlighted by the analysis and illustrated by data in the video. Thereby he wants to delineate the way that "conference culture" is being changed through the introduction of this new form of presentation that imparts not only visualisation but also its combination with bodily performance and verbalisation. [27]

In a second video "The Tunnel: a (non) sociological film", Maciej FRĄCKOWIAK uses a much more artistic and impressionistic approach (see Video 2 in KACZMAREK). Here, the video is not so much used in order to summarise what has been analysed by theoretical notions. Rather, the author uses the video as a form of description that is supported by another mode, music, in order to make social actions visible (such as walking in a hall). Or, as he himself stresses, the film was based on a classical anthropological theory, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the film is accompanied by a meaningful editing and music by which the visual and musical editing structures what may be called the analysis. FRĄCKOWIAK thus produces a "music video" that is not sociological in the sense that it is not analysing, yet at the same time it hints at social processes that somehow are highlighted by music. [28]

The systematic view on the visual forms of presentation is summarised in the paper by Jerzy KACZMAREK who addresses the "sociological film". Sociological film may be taken in a general sense as any film that addresses social issues. Yet, in his more specified meaning, sociological films are characterised as a film that addresses a topic of sociological interest; it also requires sociological competence and gives an interpretation of social reality. The genre ranges from documentaries to research films, visual self-reflections to experimental films, a variety that is illustrated by the examples provided by KACZMAREK himself as well as by the other authors. [29]

No doubt, there remains a lot to be done with respect to visualisation in the Social Sciences; the task of working on these issues seems particularly pertinent in the field of the analysis of visual data. Although for Video Analysis we can now see the beginnings of an analytical paradigm, the whole field of interpretive visual analysis still requires methodological clarifications. FQS 9(3), therefore, should be understood as one step in that direction. We hope that the readers are stimulated, thus, not only by the arguments, analyses and ideas offered her but also the visual delights our authors have produced. [30]


Bohnsack, Ralf (2008). The Interpretation of Pictures and the Documentary Method. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 26, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803267.

Christmann, Gabriela B. (2008). The Power of Photographs of Buildings in the Dresden Urban Discourse. Towards a Visual Discourse Analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 11, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803115.

Fele, Giolo (2008). The Collaborative Production of Responses and Dispatching on the Radio: Video Analysis in a Medical Emergency Call Centre. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 40, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803408.

Ferrándiz, Francisco & Baer, Alejandro (2008). Digital Memory: The Visual Recording of Mass Grave Exhumations in Contemporary Spain. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 35, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803351.

Grady, John (2008). Visual Research at the Crossroads. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 38, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803384.

Greiffenhagen, Christian (2008). Video Analysis of Mathematical Practice? Different Attempts to "Open Up" Mathematics for Sociological Investigation. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 32, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803323.

Holzwarth, Peter & Niesyto, Horst (2008). Representational and Discursive Self-expression of Young Migrants in the Context of Different (Media) Cultural Resources. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 10, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803101.

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Hubert KNOBLAUCH is Full Professor at the Technische Universität Berlin.


Hubert Knoblauch

Institute of Sociology
Franklinstr. 28/29
10587 Berlin, Germany

Tel.: ++49 30 314 22167
Fax: ++49 30 314 794 94
Sekret.: ++49 30 314 24144

E-mail: hubert.knoblauch@tu-berlin.de
URL: http://www2.tu-berlin.de/%7Esoziologie/Crew/knoblauch/index.htm


Alejandro BAER is Assistant Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.


Alejandro Baer

Department of Social Anthropology
Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología
Campus de Somosaguas s/n
28223 Madrid, Spain

Tel.: ++34 91 394 26 86

E-mail: abaer@cps.ucm.es


Eric LAURIER is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.


Eric Laurier

School of Geosciences
University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, EH9 2AG, United Kingdom

E-mail: eric.laurier@ed.ac.uk
URL: http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/elaurier/


Sabine PETSCHKE is Researcher at the Technische Universität Berlin.


Sabine Petschke

Fakultät VI Planen Bauen Umwelt
Institut für Soziologie, Fachgebiet Allgemeine Soziologie und Theorie Moderner Gesellschaften
Franklinstr. 28/29
10587 Berlin, Germany

Tel.: ++49 30 314 737 22
Fax: ++49 30 314 794 94

E-mail: sabine.petschke@tu-berlin.de
URL: http://www2.tu-berlin.de/%7Esoziologie/AllgSoz/videolab/index.php?site=5&langu=de


Bernt SCHNETTLER is Assistant Professor at the Technische Universität Berlin.


Bernt Schnettler

Fakultät VI Planen Bauen Umwelt
Institut für Soziologie, Fachgebiet Allgemeine Soziologie und Theorie Moderner Gesellschaften
Franklinstr. 28/29
10587 Berlin, Germany

Tel.: ++49 30 314 798 50
Fax: ++49 30 314 794 94

E-mail: bernt.schnettler@tu-berlin.de
URL: http://www.berntschnettler.de/


Knoblauch, Hubert; Baer, Alejandro; Laurier, Eric; Petschke, Sabine &Schnettler, Bernt (2008). Visual Analysis. New Developments in the Interpretative Analysis of Video and Photography [30 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 14, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0803148.

Copyright (c) 2008 Hubert Knoblauch, Alejandro Baer, Eric Laurier, Sabine Petschke, Bernt Schnettler

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