EJ Milne is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK and a Research Associate at the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. From 2010-2018 she was Vice President of the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Visual Sociology (ISA RC57). EJ is a member of the ISA RC57 and International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA); on the editorial board of Visual Methodologies and Youth and Globalization; and is lead editor of the Handbook of Participatory Video, Altamira Press, which was co-edited by Claudia Mitchell and Naydene de Lange.
EJ's research focuses on social justice, the politics and ethics of research and innovative research methodologies and methods. She works with traditionally excluded groups including young people, and people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to bring about social change. The methods are often chosen by the communities involved and include participatory and community based research; visual and arts based methods including storytelling (digital storytelling, picture books); photography (photovoice, photo elicitation, visual focus groups, photo diaries); film (participatory video, video diaries, documentary); drawing and mapping; and audial-methods (soundscapes, music, audio diaries).
Participatory Visual Methods in Applied Research and Evaluation: Co-creating an Australian network
The use of participatory visual methods, such as digital storytelling, drawing, participatory filmmaking and photovoice, have long been used in community settings and have become increasingly popular amongst researchers in industry and academia. Such methods have been called democratising, and also held up as developing ‘empowerment’ and ‘giving voice’. At the same time, it is increasingly acknowledged that the use of such methods can be over celebratory, lacking the critical lens of more established methods, and regarded as producing less robust data. There are also important questions around ethics including cultural and legal issues that need to be considered, as well as the implications of participation for individuals and organisations.
A recent call was made by a group of Australian based practitioners and researchers to create a space for capacity building, sharing of expertise, and critical reflection. This space would have a particular focus on the use of such methods for applied and policy-based research and evaluation in collaborations between communities, NGOs and Universities. Recognising that dialogue and discussion with others enhances practice, knowledge and skill development, this workshop will provide a place to discuss and shape an Australian-based participatory visual methods network, bringing together community, industry and university-based researchers, evaluators and practitioners, and those undertaking research as part of their studies. This will be informed by, and feed in to, global debates undertaken by the International Sociological Association Visual Sociology Group (ISA RC57), and the International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA), among others.
Participants will be invited to discuss questions such as:
- What are the needs of community, industry and university-based researchers and evaluators in Australia with regards to using participatory visual methods for evaluation and research?
- How might an Australian-based network be shaped to support and add value to evaluation and research practice?
- What activities and events are needed to enable this network to thrive and be sustainable?
Information generated from the session will be available to all participants and those interested and unable to attend. These findings may form communication for an Australia wide network on participatory visual methods which will complement global activities by other professional bodies and networks.
In the spirit of collaboration, this workshop is also supported by the International Sociological Association Visual Sociology Group (ISA RC57) who will host a series of sessions on participatory visual methods at the World Congress of Sociology in Melbourne, 2022.