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ERIC Number: EJ981895
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 41
ISSN: ISSN-1743-727X
Cultural-Historical Activity Theory and "The Visual" in Research: Exploring the Ontological Consequences of the Use of Visual Methods
O'Brien, Mark; Varga-Atkins, Tunde; Umoquit, Muriah; Tso, Peggy
International Journal of Research & Method in Education, v35 n3 p251-268 2012
This article addresses the under-theorization of visual techniques for social science research applications through the cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). The "problem" of "the visual" in research is given an ontological framing by highlighting the ways in which the use of visual techniques as research tools--designed to elicit participant responses--has a bearing upon the types of data that are produced: the "how" to some degree shapes the "what" of research output. CHAT, by drawing our attention to the ways in which the artefacts we use to mediate researcher-participant relationship (our visual research tools) also affects them, alerts us to the meanings that we (inadvertently, reflexively or even deliberately) create in the research process. Three different kinds of visual techniques are explored according to a CHAT-informed typology: diagrams as a means of eliciting technical information, drawings as a means of eliciting interpretations and judgements and fictional characters as a means of eliciting personal identification. In each case, the ontological consequences of the choice of visual technique for the insight produced are discussed to explore the value of CHAT as one approach to deepening our understanding and appreciation of the value of "the visual" in research. (Contains 6 figures.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Adult Education; Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom