Research Methods for the study of religion

An online training resource

Visual methods

Visual methods take seriously the role of images for academic research, challenging traditional preoccupations with data in the form of numbers and words. Visual methods can be a creative and highly informative way of generating interactions with research participants. Images generated through the research process can also be seen as having a distinctive role to play in representing knowledge in ways that cannot be reduced to text or speech.

Sarah Dunlop explores the value of visual methods, different approaches to visual research, and key issues for conducting visual research.


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Key Reading

Sarah Pink (2001) Doing Visual Ethnography. London: Sage, pp.1-14.

This is a key text on the theory and practice of visual research. This part of the book introduces theoretical discussions on the role of the visual in social research.

Marcus Banks (2001) Visual Methods in Social Research. London: Sage, chapters 4 & 5.

Again this is another key text in this area. Chapter 4 explores different approaches to using images in social research, and chapter 5 considers key issues in the production of images in research.

The Architecture of Contemporary Religious Transmission

This research project, funded by NORFACE, explored young people’s attitudes towards urban religious sites using visual methods (primarily photo-elicitation) to collect data and disseminate findings. Images created through the project are available on this website.


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Last Updated: 12/09/2012