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Visual Analysis

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 16, 2001; June 16, 2004
Latest update: October 29, 2005
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Index of Topics on Site The Visual Dimension of Social Analysis
The visual element has played a major role on our site since its inception, which can be substantiated by a quick visit to the archives. Sometimes we did use photos, but mostly our attention was focused on the use of "white space" to make the page more legible and draw the eye to important points, on color to brighten the setting, and on drawing and painting as a means of expressing the voice of answerability.


It's not an either/or - whatever means helps in communication is fair, and is certainly used in today's world of advertising and marketing. To ignore the visual and the aural is to ignore tools we need.

Why art? because it was wrong when we gave it up in the third grade, cave drawings weren't done by third graders, neither were Picasso's drawings. Because it soothes. It's somehow better when you can express yourself, even if that doesn't lead immediately to social change. WE've become to focused on instrumental discourse. There are other reasons for discourse than getting what you want from someone. (example: Unruly women where I never thought of myself as non-assimilated, in the introduction) When you're trying to get what you want that's called "instrumental discourse."

Art is a gift, just like voice. We don't have to be Picasso to enjoy and make the most of that gift. Lots of people are going to use it anyway, and if we deny the gift, we won't have anything to say about how it's defined. I want art defined as belonging to us all, and I want us to take good faith responsibility for using our own skills to help others discover and use theirs.

It's easier to market products and ideas with the visual. The visual is all around us. Giddens would say that we need to explain the visual and its mysteries so that people will be able to function more effectively and comfortably in a system that uses the visual as a major component of its communication. Once we teach them, they will go on to change the infrastructure and change with it interdependently. And then we'll all have to start over. That's visual sociology.

The Moral Maze of Image EthicsBy Jon Prosser. University of Leeds, School of Education. Link added April 13, 2003.

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, June 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.