Notes on the History and Development of Visual Research Methods


  • Bernt Schnettler



Visual research has been gaining in importance in recent years. This can be seen most clearly in those methods that rely on various forms of visual representation and using photographs, films, or videos as main sources of data. While opening the door to a deeper understanding and interpretation of social realities, visual analysis continues to deliver methodological challenge to the social sciences. This article sheds light on the development of visual analysis and focuses on its relevance for social research. Starting with its first applications following the invention of still and moving cameras, it traces this development up to the current use of audio-visual digital camera technologies in social research, which has made the most noticeable theoretical and methodological progress in the social sciences in the fields of videography and interpretive video analysis.