Seeing is Believing? Approaches to Visual Research

ISBN: 978-0-76231-021-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-211-5

ISSN: 1042-3192

Publication date: 30 December 2004


The arrival of cheap video equipment would seem to have opened up a whole range of methodological opportunities for the social scientist, especially the sociologist. The poor quality, expense and time-consuming clumsiness of film has over the last ten years been replaced with a flexible and easy to use technology, cheaply available in the high street that enables the researcher to record social action “au naturel.” As a social researcher who has been seduced by this opportunity I would like to comment on the process from the experience of a recent project. Without the breadth of experience to offer anything like a systematic methodology for using video in the social sciences, what I hope to do in this piece is to raise methodological issues that affect every research method but which take on a different quality with visual data. It is remarkable how little film and video data feature within the social sciences. Because of the capability of capturing the visible and hearable actions and interactions of people going about their ordinary life, it would seem to provide a rich source of data for those social scientists interested in studying local social situations. The flow and pattern of life as it is lived is recorded and retained in the moving picture with sound, to become available for close study and multiple replays. The action can be frozen, slowed down and instances separated in time and place easily compared.


Dant, T. (2004), "RECORDING THE “HABITUS”", Pole, C. (Ed.) Seeing is Believing? Approaches to Visual Research (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 41-60.

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