Visual, Creative Methods in Social Sciences

27-06-2013 / Vrije Universiteit Brussel


On Thursday 27 June prof. dr. David Buckingham will give a lecture at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel on visual, creative methods in social sciences, based on his leading and critical article in New Media & Society (2009). The arguments in his article are very relevant for social scientists and Digital Society, as he offers critical, fundamental reflections on visual methods:

IMGP0102lv2“The increasing use of such techniques raises a challenging question for academic researchers, particularly those who seek to develop ‘ethnographic’ understandings of media audiences: in what ways does our work differ – either methodologically or theoretically – from market research? Yet the questions raised by these approaches are broader than this. Are such data necessarily more truthful than data gathered using other approaches? Whose ‘voice’ do they actually represent? And how are we to interpret or analyse them? (…) I want to challenge what I regard as a form of naïve empiricism that is sometimes apparent in the discussion of ‘creative’ visual methods, and the equally naïve political arguments on which it is sometimes based. In my view, such methods cannot be seen simply as a means of enabling participants to ‘express themselves’ or to ‘tell their own stories’ – or indeed of enabling researchers to gain privileged access to what people ‘really’ think or feel. However attractive it may at first appear, this argument typically neglects the formative role (and indeed the responsibility) of the researcher; the generic and formal characteristics of the media that participants are asked to employ; and the participants’ understanding both of the context and aims of the research itself, and of the media that are used. By contrast, I will argue that the use of such methods – as of any method – needs to display a degree of reflexivity: we need to understand how research itself establishes positions from which it become possible for participants to ‘speak’”

s200_bieke.zamanNext, prof. dr. Bieke Zaman (KUL-CUO) will discuss an array of methods and reflections (and do’s and don’ts) when doing research with/about children and young people.


9.00: registration, intro & welcome

9.30: prof. dr. David Buckingham (Loughborough University, UK) about visual, creative methods in social sciences (+time for questions)

11.00: coffee break

11.15: lecture about best/bad practices in research with children and young people (prof. dr. Bieke Zaman, KUL-CUO)

12.00: lunch break


27-06-2013: 09:00 - 12:00


Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels

Registration fee

Registration is free, but required by mail to lien.mostmans(at)