Visual Sociology: Politics and Practices in Contested Spaces

This book provides a user-friendly guide to the expanding scope of visual sociology, through a discussion of a broad range of visual material, and reflections on how such material can be studied sociologically. The chapters draw on specific case-study examples that examine the complexity of the hyper-visual social world we live in, exploring three domains of the ‘relational image’: the urban, social media, and the aerial.

Zuev and Bratchford tackle issues such as visual politics and surveillance, practices of visual production and visibility, analysing the changing nature of the visual. They review a range of methods which can be used by researchers in the social sciences, utilising new media and their visual interfaces, while also assessing the changing nature of visuality.

This concise overview will be of use to students and researchers aiming to adopt visual methods and theories in their own subject areas such as sociology, visual culture and related courses in photography, new-media and visual studies.


"This book offers a refreshing visual sociological take on a number of game-changing developments in society relating to the pivotal and contested role of images and visual technologies. Its core part consists of case studies that traverse different but interconnected spaces of human activity. Drawing on concrete examples and events, this work helps to lower the threshold for those not yet acquainted with a more visual approach to studying culture and society."

Luc Pauwels, Professor of Visual Research Methods, University of Antwerp, Belgium and author of Reframing Visual Social Science: Towards a more visual sociology and anthropology (CUP).

"This is a well written, innovative, creative, and powerful book. Visual sociology is incredibly important, and this book confirms that this relevance is increasing. There is attention to social media, drones, GoPros and dashcams. Intriguingly, Goffman makes a theoretical return to visual sociology. This history is important and resonates strongly through the media-based analysis.
Finally, there is attention to city imaging and urban sociology alongside the wider discussion of digitization and visual sociology. So for urban theorists, this book also offers an infusion of important concepts and arguments.

Outstanding – 5 stars."

Tara Brabazon, Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Cultural Studies at Charles Darwin University. Professor of Cultural Studies at Flinders University, Australia, Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce and director of the Popular Culture Collective.

© Gary Bratchford