Reflections on the visual in community research and action
In this chapter, we discuss the use of photovoice and photo-elicitation techniques in community-based participatory research, where these techniques have commonly been used for showing deprivation to those in power and lobbying for change (Carlson et al., 2006; Lykes et al., 2003; Nowell et al., 2006). This tradition is useful for bringing the perspectives of marginalised groups to the fore, and is a powerful means of initiating change through facilitating dialogue between various stakeholder groups. However, much of this research invokes potentially problematic assumptions about the concept of voice, largely in regard to assumptions about representation and transparency. In presenting this discussion, we are concerned not to simply offer a critique of community research involving the use of images but to develop a richer conceptual basis for such work. In light of this, there are two parts to the chapter. The first considers the origins of photovoice, the role of voice, and the importance of Freirian notions of dialogue in understanding what participants deliver through using the technique and its value for supporting social change. The second considers the process of picturing and how this can inform understandings of photo-production and associated
efforts on the part of homeless people, psychologists, and community service providers to effect change.