Hello All. I hope you are well today.
I just received a copy of Vogt et al.’s (2014) Selecting the Right Analyses for Your Data: Quantitative, Qualitative and Mixed Methods. I was excited to begin reading this book because I thoroughly enjoyed their last book (When to Use What Research Design) published in 2013 on the use of data collection methods and sampling. This new book is supposed to complete the research process discussed in the first book.
Unfortunately, I am still reading this second book, but felt compelled to make a comment about the omission of information in the subsection of the book, called “Technologies for Recording Observational Data,” on page 119. This section literally throws in a few sentences on visual sociology. The authors define the term and include examples for each section of the definition. The next paragraph stated:
“Visual social research seems underutilized. Rigor in the coding and analysis of visual data does not appear to us to have progressed much beyond nor often attained the levels demonstrated in the classic by Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis, published more than 70 years ago. Mead and Bateson did not simply illustrate, they integrated photographic data into their analyses. [Next paragraph] With the easy availability of photographic technology, for example on cell phones, one might expect visual sociology and anthropology to have become more widespread. Perhaps visual recordings have remained underutilized because of regulations regarding research ethics, particularly the anonymity of research participants…” (pg. 119-120).
WOW. To say the least. The authors refer to the Visual Studies Journal, the International Visual Sociology Association, Pierre Bourdieu (1965) work, and Douglas Harper’s (1988) article in the journal as official references for anything regarding visual sociology. Having published in the journal and having chaired and presented at the Association’s conferences repeatedly and having met Dr. Harper and other hard working sociologists at one of those conferences, I would have to say that the Vogt, Vogt, Gardner and Haeffele need to seriously apologize for their inaccurate comments and update the information in their book. They singlehandedly disrespected an entire discipline and highlighted just how ill-informed they are even after appearing to do a proper literature review for this section of their book.
At the very least, they could have referenced Ball and Smith’s 1992 book, Analyzing Visual Data, to see that coding and analysis efforts in the 90’s were trying to advance the discipline. What about van Leeuwen and Jewitt’s (2001) Handbook of Visual Analysis? This handbook offers details about “cooking” the data and preparing the visual data for analysis. Even my little article with Dr. Margolis, which was published in the Visual Studies Journal, Fram and Margolis 2011, offers an example of how to code and analyze visual data and how to apply our new coding method, archivization.
Their comment gives off the sense that an entire discipline has not done anything to advance for more than 50 years. At the very least, the section is written in such a way that it lends itself to conveying serious misunderstandings. I can agree that any and all disciplines have their moments in history when they do not advance or they are stuck and not progressing, but to totally discount a group of people who have worked hard to advance visual sociology after 1942 and up to Pierre Bourdieu (1965), then after 1965 and up to 1988 with Harper’s article, then after 1988…Come on.
What the heck…
The authors need to offer some serious clarification and an apology.
I will continue to read this latest book by the authors’ because now I am concerned if more information has been omitted.
I am speechless….
Ball, M.S. and Smith, G.W.H. 1992. Analyzing Visual Data. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Bourdieu, P. 1965. Un art moyen: Essai sur les usages sociaux de photographie. Paris: Ed. du Minuit.
Harper, D. 1988. Visual sociology: Expanding sociological vision. American Sociologist, 21, 54-70.
Van Leeuwen, T. and Jewitt, C. 2001. Handbook of Visual Analysis. London: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Vogt, W.P., Vogt, E.R., Gardner, D.C. and Haeffele, L.M. 2014. Selecting the right analyses for your data: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. New York: Guilford Press.