Brock University

Transcending Boundaries of Sociological Vision I

Visual Sociology is a diverse field of study which gathers sociologists involved in visual studies and studies of the visual. As a relatively new discipline and methodology within sociology, including newly formed sub groups of the International Sociology Association and the British Sociology Association, Visual Sociology attracts growing numbers of scholars and students who are using visual methods, and/or interested in the production, use and dissemination of visual knowledge. This session invites papers that seek the opportunity to share, exchange and develop ideas which are relevant to Visual Sociology to generate further discussions concerning the collection of visual data in the field (in archives, photo albums, media, websites etc.) as well as the production of visual materials by the researcher (photography and documentaries) with an emphasis on methods of analysis of these data. With analysis of the socio-cultural locus of the visual, the key concern is how the visual is produced, used and disseminated, and how it intersects with the verbal and other means of communication and sensory experience.

Session Organizer: Gloria Nickerson, University of New Brunswick,


How do images of political conflict change?: Reading one image, over time

Rima Wilkes, UBC,

How and why photographic meaning varies over time is not well understood. Time is important because publics shift how they ‘read’ images,including those of the past. Those studiesthat do consider temporal changes in meaning associated with images ofpolitical conflict either consider changes in the images selected to representparticular events or consider how particular images are culturally appropriatedvia art and iconography.  The assumption,if implicit, is that in order for there to be a change in visual meaning, theimage must change. Yet experimental research shows that the image-textrelationship also matters.  Most imagesare accompanied by headlines and captions that shape readers understanding ofthe story itself as well as the image. That is, textual framing can also affect how the same image is understood.            Drawing on this point this paper traces the media’s textual framing of a single image ofpolitical conflict over time.  In so doing, this paper bridges content analytic and rhetorical approaches to thestudy of visual meaning. The image considered, Face to Face, was taken on September 1, 1990 at the height of the Siegeat Kanehsatà:ke/Oka crisis, pitting Mohawk Warriors against the Canadian armyin a dispute over the expansion of a golf course. The image has made repeated subsequent appearances and has continued to be the subject of written discussion within Canadian newsmedia outlets for more than two decades. It therefore provides an ideal case with which to analyze temporal changes in visual-text framing.


Our Commemorative Tattoo Community Project: Creating a Digital Archive for Commemorative Tattoos

Deborah Davidson, York University, Department of Sociology,

The cultural significance of tattoos is well established.  Tattoos research is a study of important aspects of culture, discourses within it, and social relations.  While tattoos have long been used as marks of deviance, tattoos have also been used for spiritual and decorative purposes, sacred art, and as a part of sacred ceremonies marking social position, power and strength of character.  Through scholarly and community collaboration, an interdisciplinary group of researchers and community partners are developing a digital archive for commemorative tattoos.  A commemorative tattoo is one in remembrance or honour of a living or deceased person, animal, place, relationship, or key life event.  The archive will be a repository for photos and accompanying narratives.  It will provide a rich source of data for researchers engaged in a broad span of work, including in visual narrative and computer-assisted data collection methods.  The importance and contributions of this project lie precisely within the intersections between the public and the private in terms of providing a valuable resource for the collection and sharing of memorial tattoos and the stories that are embedded and embodied within them.


484 Manifestations of the Ordinary

kyler zeleny, currently none.,

The Materiality and Morality of Found Polaroids

484 Manifestations of the Ordinary explores the discovery of 484 banal and aging Polaroid images. These Polaroids are the accumulated moments of another man’s life. Documented are his friends and family in familiar poses, their birthdays, drinks, pets, laughs and private spaces. The paper outlines the process taken to deconstruct the lot with the anticipated goal of making sense of the chaotic batch from the position of the uninitiated outsider.

At times the images are highly conventional, appearing as if they belong to not one family album but many, to mine and to yours. Building upon the literature in the field (J. Hirsch, M. Hirsch, P. Holland, M. Langford, Jo. Spence, V. Williams), I look to explore the relevance and sanctity of both the family album and the physical image. I will discuss the transmissions and transactions that occur when private images enter the public domain. The article, acting as a detailed case study, is a platform for the discussion of morality in relation to private images in public view. Durkheim’s views on what is sacred and profane are used to establish a moral connection. As well, relevant and contemporary photographic publications will be discussed including the work of Arianna Arcara, Luca Santese and the prolific Erik Kessels.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie