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Video-based methods in science and technology studies

Posted Sep 24 2009 10:11pm

Yuwei Lin and Christian Greiffenhagen are planning to organise a panel on ‘video methodologies and STS’ at next year’s EASST (European Association for the Study of Science and Technology) meeting in Trento (September 2-4, 2010), and want to know if others are interested.

As they rightly point out, despite the rapid technical developments and a general turn to the visual in the social sciences, “video methodologies are still not widely used within STS, and most researchers continue to rely on ‘traditional’ ethnographic or other qualitative research methods using other means, such as talk or writing.

However, video technologies clearly offer exciting possibilities of capturing the dynamics and complexities in the field. Video constitutes a new form of evidence that can be exploited by researchers. Not only can it be used for the purposes of observation and documenting, video can also be used for ‘action research’ as a research tool through which field participants could represent their experiences through new media production and exchange (e.g., de Block and Sefton-Green 2004). When applied in STS, video helps to understand the complexities and multi-modalities in scientific and/or technical development and implementation processes more fully.

Would everyone agree with these arguments? What are the challenges of applying video-based methods in STS-like research (e.g., nuisances of using video technologies, field workers’ informed consent, interaction with the field workers, ethics of publishing video data)? How have video-based methods been applied in different types of research? What are the implications of video-based methods to STS research? Is it possible to capture ‘where the action is’ on video, or is scientific and technological work too distributed, both spatially and temporally, to allow such capture?

Interesting initiative! Anyone who would like to get involved in the panel should contact Yuwei ( yuwei@ylin.org ) before 5 October.

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