Learning More about Photovoice: A Brief Annotated Bibliography

Categories: Action Research, Creative Methods, Data Analysis, Other

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We are kicking off a three-month focus on data analysis, starting with Analyzing Words, Pictures, and Numbers in July. This month we will have the opportunity to learn new ideas and practical skills from Mentors in Residence Stephen Gorard, Jean Breny, and Shannon McMorrow. Find the unfolding series through this link.

Wondering more about Photovoice research?  How to do it? What kinds of projects work best?  And, most importantly, where to start??

Photovoice for Social Justice
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If you are seeking a method that allows for the voices and lived experiences of your research participants to be fully expressed, Photovoice might be for you!  Grounded in Freirian methods of allowing for critical consciousness, feminist and critical theory to open up the space for emancipation and liberation, and an action-orientation for using findings to create change; Photovoice is the whole package for social justice and social action!

The annotated bibliography below includes selected works to show the breadth and reach photovoice research can give you and we hope that somewhere within there, and beyond in the thousands of other articles on Photovoice, you find your place to start.

McMorrow, S., & Saksena, J. (2017). Voices and Views of Congolese Refugee Women: A Qualitative Exploration to Inform Health Promotion and Reduce Inequities. Health Education & Behavior44(5), 769–780. https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198117726572

In 2016, the largest proportion of refugees to the United States came from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This presents the opportunity to explore health needs as Congolese refugees resettle in the United States, with women taking priority due to health disparities linked to gender-based discrimination, trauma, sexual and gender-based violence, lower literacy rates, and less access to learning English. Therefore, to better understand perceptions and experiences of Congolese women in Indianapolis related to health and health care, a research study was conducted in collaboration with a refugee resettlement agency utilizing Photovoice and semistructured interviews. Selected photos, photo stories, and interview transcripts were analyzed using ethnographic content analysis. Major themes were health care system issues, social support, and daily experiences of health. Findings provide needed insight into the sociocultural context of health for Congolese refugees in the United States for both health educators and resettlement agencies. Findings also revealed specific priority areas for culturally tailoring health education and assets on which to build when promoting health for this population.

Here is one example of a photo and the woman’s description of how it relates to her life, from this article:


That is the hospital. It is not happy. . . . They have a beautiful building, but that doesn’t mean everything’s going right. I am going to tell you what happen to me, my own example. We will make an appointment and the day of the appointment. . . . I will be there at the time and they say, “Oops, today there is no interpreter. Why don’t you make another appointment and come?” . . . I want to see the doctor, but I have to go. They don’t hear me, they don’t care about me.”

Ruff, N., Smoyer, A. B., & Breny, J. (2019). Hope, Courage, and Resilience in the Lives of Transgender Women of Color. The Qualitative Report24(8), 1990-2008. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2019.3729

There is a dearth of strengths-based literature on transgender women of color accurately highlighting their lived experience in a way that shows their strength, perseverance and strong sense of community. Most of the literature focuses instead, on their experiences being incarcerated, high rates of communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, health behaviors like drug use, and their need to sell sex for money to make a living. In this article by Ruff, Smoyer & Breny, the light is finally shone on what it means to transition from male to female and begin to live a life as a transgender woman.  The women in this project were part of a social support group who encouraged each other to live their best life. The support group leader, a trans woman of color herself and the lead author of the article, expresses beautifully through the words and pictures of her participants, about how it’s these women’s strength, resilience and throughout it all – hope – for living their lives the way they knew they needed to.  Examples of positive trans stories include the dream of getting married, moving away from a life of prostitution and drug use, and all sharing their visions of a bright future.  

Here is one example of a photo and the woman’s description of how it relates to her life, from this article:

This tree in my backyard has a million plus branches, or it looks like it does. And they’re all interconnected and branching off into about a million directions…You see everything branching off like there’s one branch, then right after you’re done with one, there’s one branching off the side and there’s a little short branch off that one. And it’s just like you don’t ever know what you’re going to be dealt with or what life is going to hit you with. You have to go on your journey.

Sánchez-Ledesma, E, Vásquez-Vera, H.,  Sagarra, N., Peralta, A, Porthé, V., & Díez,E. (2020). Perceived pathways between tourism gentrification and health: A participatory Photovoice study in the Gòtic neighborhood in Barcelona. Science & Medicine, 258, 113095, doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113095.

 closure of the toy shop
The closure of the toy shop (R.P., a 64 year-old man.)

Of great concern in high tourist areas around the world, is the issue of “tourism gentrification,” Which can impact the local culture in ways both great and detrimental to the local residents. The attention paid to high income tourists, can transform what was once familiar and affordable into social and health-related problems for the locals. The research is limited on the connection between tourism gentrification and health and so in this research a deep dive exploration is done in to the lived experiences of residents of Gòtic neighborhood, in Barcelona thought a photovoice exploration. Residents affiliated with local neighborhood associations took photos of how their residential neighborhoods had been impacted over time, due to an influx in tourism.  Results included an increase in pollution and influx of national chains stores, dissolving of social capital, and increased disconnection to community, which impacted their physical, emotional and mental health.  The residents involved in the study concluded that their activism to maintain the quality of their neighborhoods was needed to improve their health.

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