Using Photovoice with Working-Class Men: Affordances, Contradictions and Limits to Reflexivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Photovoice, a method involving participant-generated images, has grown steadily in popularity in health and social research since the late 1990s. It has commonly been situated within participatory action research (PAR), which itself involves community groups in studies of the socio-economic, political and cultural issues affecting/constraining them. Much Photovoice-based research (within PAR) has been claimed as empowering for disadvantaged participants and, consequently, has neglected a more critical appreciation of the method. Based on experience of Photovoice (though not within a PAR strategy) deployed with focus groups of disadvantaged men representing their health/well-being practices in Northwest England (N=20 and based on over 100 images), we contribute a more balanced evaluation of its possibilities. We begin by recognising advantages of the method as identified in the literature and add some of our own concerning its capabilities for illuminating the hidden emotional reflexivity of working-class men, their socio-political criticism and health-seeking behaviours. Stereotypically such practices are seen as the opposite of brute working-class masculinity. However, we focus more on the structural-hierarchical and discursive-ideological limits to reflexivity and critique concerning men’s understandings of class and food/diet, which also indicate limits to the empowering potential of the method and the contradictory knowledge it can produce.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Early online date12 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Dec 2018

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Health Services Research
Vulnerable Populations
Health
Masculinity
Focus Groups
Research
England
Economics
Diet
Food

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title = "Using Photovoice with Working-Class Men: Affordances, Contradictions and Limits to Reflexivity",
abstract = "Photovoice, a method involving participant-generated images, has grown steadily in popularity in health and social research since the late 1990s. It has commonly been situated within participatory action research (PAR), which itself involves community groups in studies of the socio-economic, political and cultural issues affecting/constraining them. Much Photovoice-based research (within PAR) has been claimed as empowering for disadvantaged participants and, consequently, has neglected a more critical appreciation of the method. Based on experience of Photovoice (though not within a PAR strategy) deployed with focus groups of disadvantaged men representing their health/well-being practices in Northwest England (N=20 and based on over 100 images), we contribute a more balanced evaluation of its possibilities. We begin by recognising advantages of the method as identified in the literature and add some of our own concerning its capabilities for illuminating the hidden emotional reflexivity of working-class men, their socio-political criticism and health-seeking behaviours. Stereotypically such practices are seen as the opposite of brute working-class masculinity. However, we focus more on the structural-hierarchical and discursive-ideological limits to reflexivity and critique concerning men’s understandings of class and food/diet, which also indicate limits to the empowering potential of the method and the contradictory knowledge it can produce.",
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