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Photovoice is a type of participatory inquiry, which is a methodological and onto-epistemological stance that seeks to emancipate marginalized individuals, confront inequity, and work for social transformation. Photovoice incorporates Paulo Freire’s problem-posing education, documentary photography techniques, and feminist thought as an approach for community members to identify shared concerns and construct collective knowledge. It also seeks to challenge unequal power relations by disrupting hegemonic structures in the production of knowledge and policy, as photographs and accompanying descriptions can communicate powerfully about community needs and demands for change. University-based researchers or practitioners facilitate this communication by bringing community perspectives to the attention of government officials and others in positions of power. In this paper, we describe how we adapted this approach for virtual use during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We offer examples of two projects that engaged photovoice in virtual spaces: Courageous Conversations, a youth participatory action research project which Meagan conducts with youth in the United States, and Melissa’s dissertation, conducted with Syrian students who are refugees enrolled in higher education in Turkey. Through these examples we draw out methodological lessons learned as well as challenges of conducting photovoice in virtual spaces. We conclude that whether researchers and practitioners use photovoice as a method in virtual or face-to-face settings, we must remember the emancipatory goals of participatory inquiry, always relying upon and anchoring our methodological decisions in the ontologies and epistemologies of genuine participation that undergird photovoice.
photovoice, participatory research, epistemology, participation, COVID-19, youth, Syria, refugees, Turkey
The authors would like to acknowledge the knowledge and expertise of the youth and others who contributed to the research highlighted in this article.
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Recommended APA Citation
Call-Cummings, M., & Hauber-Özer, M. (2021). Virtual Photovoice: Methodological Lessons and Cautions. The Qualitative Report, 26(10), 3214-3233. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2021.4971