Advances in the Visual Analysis of Social Movements

Together with Nicole Doerr and Simon Teune, I had the pleasure to co-edited Volume 35 of Social Movements, Conflict and Change whose special section deals with visuals in social movements studies. Here are a couple of short excerpts from our introduction:

“This volume seeks to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the topic by considering the intertwining of diverse visual materials with the mobilization, framing, diffusion, and resonance of protest and social movements. In particular, we address three neglected areas of research in the visual analysis of social movements: the visual expressions of social movements through images and other visual artifacts; the visual representation of social movements by actors external to social movements; and the more general aspect of social movements’ visibility in larger societal contexts”

“Overall, the five chapters in the special section underline that focusing on visuals makes it possible to intersect cultural and political analysis in a unique and interdisciplinary way. Social movement scholars learn how visual representations, framings, and strategies constitute political resources, how symbols get shaped in political struggles, how they shape outcomes of political processes and political identities as well as memories and emotions associated to movements. The wide array of case studies covering regions as diverse as the North Africa, Europe, Australia, and North America, they uncover the relevance of visual analysis in studying emerging new forms of movement communication as well as the historical importance of images for social movement studies. More particularly, the five contributions provide important insights on how visuals can function as resources for social movements; how visuals intertwine with processes of diffusion in mobilizations; and, finally, on the methodological challenges and opportunities that social movement scholars face when approaching the visual realm in protest settings.”