STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER
• Content analysis
• Discourse analysis
• Grounded theory
• Interpreting images
• Interpreting an image: an example
• Analyzing moving images
• Visual media are a form of text or discourse.
• Visual media can use the same analytical
tools that are available to quantitative and
qualitative data e.g.:
• Content analysis (numerical and qualitative)
• Discourse analysis
• Grounded theory
• Start with research questions that determine
which images will be used in the analysis
• Retrieve the appropriate images
• Devise a coding system and codes
• Code the images according to the codes
• Count codes and their frequencies
• Reflect on what the coding and the
frequencies have indicated.
• Content analysis is more concerned with the
contents of the image rather than its
production or audiencing; hence it may not be
able to comment on the cultural significance of
the images made or caught.
• The whole is more than the sum of the parts.
• Coding risks losing wholeness, as it is
atomistic and fragmentizing.
• does not discriminate between weaker and
stronger instances of the code;
• loses important interconnections between
elements of an image;
• misses the mood that an image might be
trying to create;
• overlooks the point that different people view
images in different ways and with different
• overlooks an ideology-critical way of viewing
• A discourse is a group of statements which
structure how we think about things and how
we act on the basis of those thoughts.
• Images can be ‘read’ for the meanings that
they convey to, or elicit from, the viewer.
• Discourses structure and define what is
valuable knowledge, how to know and how to
think, and are instruments and effects of power.
• Discourses are saturated by power.
• In understanding images we have to engage in
an analysis, and critique, of power, how it
• Review the image on the basis of the
structured approach of content analysis.
• Discover key themes or features.
• Identify interesting features or messages.
• Look for contradictions, discontinuities or
complex issues in the image.
• Look at what the image has omitted
(deliberately or not).
• Consider the purpose of the image and its
effects (intended or not) on the audience
(intended or not).
• Consider the production (who, why, where,
how, when, and audience of the image.
• Look at where the image is kept, stored,
displayed, labelled, indexed, catalogued,
• The kinds of films that come out of film
companies and studios.
• The kinds of programmes that television
channels put out, for whom and in what format.
• Which audiences watch which films or which
• Which people go to see which images and
• Open coding
• Axial coding
• Selective coding
• Theoretical sampling
• Constant comparison
• Generation of core categories
• Theoretical saturation
• Generation of theory
ACTORS IN VISUAL DATA
Who are the actors/who is speaking in the text?
• The people who have been filmed
• The producers of the final image
• The camera operator
• The journalist in the film
• The chief editor
• The television presenter
• Eyewitnesses or other people in the film
• The film editor
• Start by looking at the whole.
• Look at the overall ‘global impressions’ and
• Then move to more detailed analysis and
coding, i.e. with the overall picture in mind.
• Keep sight of the interconnections and
interrelationships between different parts of
• Reflexivity is central.
• Why, when, where, by whom, for whom, how
is/was the image made?
• Who is/was/are/were the originally intended
audiences of the image?
• How is/was the image displayed?
• What do we know about the maker, the
owner(s) and the people (if any) on the image?
• What were the relations (if any) between the
producer, the subjects and the owner(s) of the
• What is the image about, and what/whom does
the image show?
• What are the features of the image (e.g.
compositional, genre, style, colour, elements,
structure, format, arrangement, symmetry etc.)?
• What is the medium of the image?
• What are the striking features of the image?
• Is the image ‘stand-alone’, is it part of a set or
series, is it part of a collection?
• Should the image be seen on its own or in the
context of a set or series?
• From where was the image taken?
• What do the different elements of the image
signify, and how do we know?
• What interpretations can be made of the image?
• Do the interpretations made of the image
accord with the intentions of the producer of the
image (do we know of the original intentions)?
• What different interpretations of the image are
made by different audiences (and from different
backgrounds, e.g. related to ethnicity, age
group, sex, sexuality, social class, income
groups, geographical location, etc.).
• What and whose knowledge is included in or
excluded from the image?
• Who is empowered/disempowered in or by the
• What contradictions, if any, exist within the
• Where is the image kept/stored/displayed?
• Who has/had access to the image?
• How can/could the image be viewed?
• How is the image described, labelled, indexed,
• Is there a written commentary on the image,
and, if so, what does it contain?
• What is the intended and actual relation
between the image and those who view it?
ANALYZING MOVING IMAGES
• Interrogate the moving images in light of the
• Undertake a more valuative and ideology-critical
reading of their content
• Select, and justify the selection of, particular parts
of the moving images
• What is happening in the story?
• Read a film for its ideological content and effects
• Start with an overall view of the film as a whole,
noting themes, impressions, key points (i.e. as
one would ‘read’ a text)
• Then perform a micro-analysis of the material