Concerning the Foundations of Visual Sociology: Perception and Seeing, Observing, and Gazing

  • Reinhard Bachleitner Universität Salzburg
  • Martin Weichbold Universität Salzburg
Keywords: perception, visual sociology, methodological foundations of visual methods

Abstract

In this article we analyze the visual ways of perception—seeing, observing, and gazing,—and discuss the double dependence of the process of perception on theory. In doing so we argue that open methodological and epistemological questions can be answered by differentiating the process of perception into three steps: pure vision, cognitive representation, and transformation of perception into words. In addition, the processes of perception have to be further differentiated in conscious and unconscious levels of awareness.

As existing empirical analyses of the influence of diverse variables on the results of perception indicate, the process of visual perception is highly sensible and includes various sources of methodological artifacts. The suggested two-dimensional "visual difference," consisting of the difference between image and language as well as of the difference between presentative and discursive symbols, should sensitize researchers towards diverse processes of screening and selection. This concept should therefore be systematically integrated in the interpretation of all processes of perception.

The question of the methodological quality of visual studies remains in the focus of the analyses as it becomes clear that any process of perception is always subject to the individual observer‘s multiple mechanisms of screening and selection. This article therefore constitutes a first attempt to outline consistent "quality criteria" for visual studies.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1502100

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Author Biographies

Reinhard Bachleitner, Universität Salzburg

Reinhard BACHLEITNER ist Professor an der Abteilung Soziologie und Kulturwissenschaft der Universität Salzburg mit den inhaltlichen Schwerpunkten Methoden und Methodologie empirischer Sozialforschung, Tourismus-, Kultur- und Freizeitsoziologie. Studium der Soziologie, Pädagogik, (Psychologie) (Abschluss Doktorat), Geografie, Sportwissenschaften (Abschluss Magister).

Martin Weichbold, Universität Salzburg

Martin WEICHBOLD ist a.o. Univ.-Prof. an der Abteilung Soziologie und Kulturwissenschaft der Universität Salzburg mit den inhaltlichen Schwerpunkten Methodologie empirischer Sozialforschung sowie kulturvergleichende Forschung. Studium der Soziologie, Politikwissenschaft und Psychologie.

Published
2015-03-10
How to Cite
Bachleitner, R., & Weichbold, M. (2015). Concerning the Foundations of Visual Sociology: Perception and Seeing, Observing, and Gazing. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-16.2.2141