Using photographs of places, spaces and objects to explore South Asian Women’s experience of close relationships and marriage
This chapter explores the subjective experience of closeness in UK married life using photo-elicitation and photo-production with women of South Asian origin.1 Personal relationships have become an important object of study within psychology and the social sciences in the last 30 years, reflecting the need to understand more fully experiences which are taken for granted in many people’s lives. South Asian women cannot be viewed as a homogenous category, but are differentiated by region, language, religion, wealth, education, caste, as well as the geographical area in which they now reside. Two studies are described where photos were used as a tool to focus participants on their experiences of close relationships in particular material settings, for example the home. This orientation towards the material world was thought by the researcher to trigger memories of specific experiences and feelings associated with close relationships. While the first study involved life-history interviews, where participants reflected on the different experiences of closeness over time with the aid of existing family photos (e.g. photo-elicitation), the second study considered how participants made sense of closeness in everyday married life through taking photos of objects and spaces related to married life (e.g. photoproduction). It is argued here that the use of photos in narrative interviews about close relationships can move participants beyond established cultural narratives or ways of talking about closeness to the complexities of what ‘doing closeness’ actually entails. In each of the two studies, photographs were used in different ways and each will be examined in order to establish how each approach contributed something different to the study of closeness.