chapter  16
14 Pages

Towards a visual social psychology of identity and representation: photographing the self, weaving the family in a multicultural British community


Social psychology has long recognised the role of the visual in the development of identity, representations of others and prejudice (Forrester, 2000). The images that others have of us impact on identity as we develop a sense and a vision of self. The images and so representations that others have of us sometimes affirm or jar with our own image of who we are (Howarth, 2002). Research within the Social Representations tradition (Moscovici, 1998), for example, demonstrates the ways in which representations produce, extend, threaten and sometimes transform different social identities (see Moloney and Walker, 2007, for a useful edited collection). Yet, methodologically, there are few empirical studies that practically explore the actual production of self-images or the contestation of stigmatising representations of particular communities.1 As Forrester (2000) has commented, ‘it is a little surprising that photography has rarely been used in psychology either as a basis for analysing cultural conceptions of the self-display, or as a methodological tool in research exploring the relationship between self-concept and presentation’ (p. 168).