Sharing Images, Spoiling Meanings?

Class, Gender, and Ethics in Visual Research with Girls

in Girlhood Studies
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In our article we consider the ethical challenges engendered by participatory visual research with girls. Drawing on photographs taken by and of girls we explore how to reconcile the challenges generated by disseminating images of girls while supporting them to have a voice in research. Our concerns are focused on how to maintain the integrity of girls’ visual voices while protecting them from any harm that may result from revealing visual information about them. This issue has become increasingly germane for visual sociology since developments in digital technology and visual culture mean that images can circulate instantaneously and in perpetuity, potentially stripping them of their creators’ intentions and infusing them with new and unintended meanings. We consider different approaches to resolving our ongoing ethical dilemma and examine their potential for honoring the flesh-and-blood girl’s right to be heard amidst concerns about her digital visibility.