Photovoice is typically used in community and participatory research to allow people to document and interpret their everyday lived experiences. However, often photovoice is used as a research method without deep reflection on its underlying goals and epistemological commitments to critically empower its participants and spark reflective dialogue within a community. This article showcases selections from a photovoice exhibit and its accompanying survey of exhibit attendees to explore possible negative unintended consequences of this action-oriented approach to research if researchers are not appropriately reflexive in how photovoice is used. Drawing on a long-term participatory action research (PAR) project with a research collective consisting of this article’s first author (a White, female university-based researcher), 25 Latino/a high school students and their White teacher, and through rigorous qualitative analysis of the stories that accompanied the photography as well as of the survey responses, the authors conclude that researchers and research collectives that use a photovoice approach to motivating social change and working for consciousness-raising must be careful to not unintentionally perpetuate status quo understandings of an issue or even unconsciously allow for a deeper entrenching of subtly oppressive treatment of historically marginalized populations.
Photovoice, Participatory Action Research, Latino Education
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Indiana University Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES), without which this research would not have taken place.
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Recommended APA Citation
Call-Cummings, M., & Martinez, S. (2016). Consciousness-Raising or Unintentionally Oppressive?. The Qualitative Report, 21(5), 798-810. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol21/iss5/1