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Visual Research Practice and Sociology Teaching: Sociology Theory and the Use of Cinematic Film

Quaid, Sheila and Connelly, Sarah (2021) Visual Research Practice and Sociology Teaching: Sociology Theory and the Use of Cinematic Film. In: Annual Faculty of Education & Society Staff Research Conference, 14 June 2021, University of Sunderland. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


The Critical use of visual sources has enabled students to work within professions which depend on interpretive skills and critical decision making. Employers within creative, social and care and education employment sectors increasingly require critical interpretation skills. In this paper, we explore how engaging in visuals can enhance future graduates’ skillsets.

Drawing on film, literature, and sociological theory, a new final year project was created that theorises race, gender, class, nationality, and sexuality. The teaching approach enables students to develop interpretive and critical thinking using visual research practices. Connecting post structural theory (Butler, 1990; Foucault, 1977) and visual sources, with an introduction to cultural studies theorists (Berger, 1972; Hall, 1997; Nixon. 1977, 2013) we created a new teaching approach and learning environment, where the most intensely personal aspects of identity were analysed. Attendance was noticeably excellent, leading to the co-creation in assessment where students chose their own sources, that were meaningful to their identities.  The importance of enabling them to find ways to connect personally to sources without necessarily having to make personal or ideological disclosures proved effective. Therefore the creation of cinema club and compulsory screenings of cinematic films were built into the curriculum to provide examples of how visual sources can be used to explore cultural identities.  When teaching post structural theorists, theory was applied and interpreted to analyse the chosen movies, leading to the work produced being both deeply interpretive, theoretical, and critical.

This experience led to professional collaboration with community arts and creation of interdisciplinary sociological and participatory arts conferences on Visual Methods in learning and teaching. This also led to community engagement with ESRC Festivals of Social Science interdisciplinary conferences which brought together environmentalists, artists, sociologists' film theorists and historians. The feedback has been from wide ranging practitioners, for example in Child and Language development, environmentalists, artists, and educators. We hope to open pedagogical discussion with colleagues in other subjects surrounding the use of the visual.

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More Information

Depositing User: Sheila Quaid


Item ID: 13699

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Sheila Quaid: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2021 13:23
Last Modified: 18 May 2023 09:36


Author: Sheila Quaid ORCID iD
Author: Sarah Connelly

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences > Centre for Applied Social Sciences


Education > Higher Education
Social Sciences > Sociology
Social Sciences > Working with Young People
Social Sciences

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