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Self-Portraits for Social Change: Audience Response to a Photovoice Exhibition by Women with Disability
Negative attitudes about and behaviours towards women with disability are harmful and exclusionary, contributing to poorer health, income, educational, and employment outcomes. Our study focused on what audiences learnt, felt, and did (what changed) after viewing self-portraits and stories by women with disability. We questioned whether a public exhibition of their artworks, created through photovoice methodology, could be an effective platform to provoke social change and increase inclusion for people with disability. We collected audience response to our exhibition to address a research gap and to provide an example for other photovoice researchers. We employed interpretive thematic analysis through a generic social processes framework to interrogate responses. Our findings indicate that audiences learnt as much about themselves and their views of disability as they did about the women photographers. The audience described feelings of empathic engagement. They also expressed an unsettling between previously held assumptions around disability and new perspectives gained through the exhibition. Audiences changed how they view women with disability by engaging with the underlying messages of equality in the self-portraits and stories. Audiences thought the exhibition would change other people’s views, too, indicating a pathway to greater inclusion for people with disability.
photovoice exhibition, social change, disability, self-portrait, audience response, generic social processes, interpretive thematic analysis, arts-based research, grounded theory, participatory action research, mixed methodology
We are grateful to photographers and co-researchers Kerry Fountain, Evianne Grosvenor, Melinda Montgomery, Karen Peacock, Marusha Rowe Pride and Malissa Thorpe for their dedication, diligence and guidance throughout this project. We thank Frida Kitas, Christine Brennan, Randwick City Council, the staff at Bowen Library Maroubra, Fergus Grealy and the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team at UNSW for their support.
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Recommended APA Citation
Macdonald, D., Dew, A., Fisher, K., & Boydell, K. (2022). Self-Portraits for Social Change: Audience Response to a Photovoice Exhibition by Women with Disability. The Qualitative Report, 27(4), 1011-1039. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2022.5154
Australian Studies Commons, Community Health Commons, Disability Studies Commons, Photography Commons, Women's Health Commons