chapter  9
20 Pages

The video-camera as a cultural object: The presence of (an)Other


Introduction The emergence and rising significance of qualitative methods in psychology is coterminous with the introduction and advancement of recording technologies (both audio and visual, and analogue and digital). It is likely that part of the reason for this is the apparently less interpretative nature of technologically reproducible ‘factual’ documents, that is in comparison to earlier methods such as diary studies and ethnographic field notes. Across the discipline there are many examples which exhibit that close and particular integration of theoretical development, methodological innovation, data-collection practices and the associated conventions of interpretation, all coalescing around the record – the documentary evidence produced by audio and video techniques and technologies (Ochs, 1979; Zuengler et al., 1998). Observational methods in developmental psychology and discursive approaches found in social psychology are two example domains difficult to imagine developing in the way they have without the corresponding availability of recording devices and techniques. The aim in what follows is to consider, and place into context, video-recording as a research practice in what is often described as a naturalistic or an ‘everyday’ setting, particularly when one of the participants also has the dual role of researcher/participant. The focus is on understanding something of how participants orient towards, accommodate or otherwise respond to the video-camera as a cultural object particularly when it is used regularly in an everyday context (family mealtime recordings).