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Introduction to Visual Analysis

0EM03 Guest Lecture

Bram Verhees

on 11 October 2015

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Transcript of Introduction to Visual Analysis

Answer my research question by looking at the nuclear power innovation journey.

Useful case because:
Longitudinal case
Intense contestation (good visibility of cultural legitimation process)
Case selection: nuclear power
What are the antecedents/consequences of some phenomenon? --> variance approach

independent and dependent variables
causal models, statistically significant relations.
Usually qualitative: surveys etc.

How does it emerge & develop over time?  --> process methods

Narrative approach
multimodal research: variety of sources and methods (both qualitative and quantitative) that contribute to the narrative.
Variance and process approaches
Part II:
My PhD research & how I used images

Part I:
visual analysis –
the basics

Emergence of 'counter-culture' discourses:
Concern for environmental problems
Technology out of control
Peace and disarmament
Anti-nuclear storyline links up with these discourses through various performances, including material culture (posters, political cartoons, campaign buttons)
Macro-cultural resonance
After WWII, atomic energy linked to death and destruction.
Main challenge (from legitimacy perspective): remove negative associations between atomic energy and the bomb…
…e.g. by constructing macro-cultural resonance, experiential commensurability etc.
The Atomic Age (1945-1969)
Analyze texts (i.e. also images!) on how they construct:

empirical fit (mobilize real-world events),
credibility (mobilize status or expertise),
centrality (link to urgent issues),
experiential commensurability (link to everyday life),
macro-cultural resonance (link to broader shared discourses)

...these concepts served as ‘guides' for interpretation
What did I look for in my sources?
Secondary literature (academic histories of nuclear power & anti-nuclear movements)

semi-structured interviews (experts, actors)

(quantitative) bibliometric analysis of newspaper articles: word occurrence and co-occurrence

'textual' discourse analysis: newspaper articles, 'grey' literature, popular-scientific books etc.

'visual' discourse analysis: educational slide shows, documentaries, anti-nuclear movement posters, campaign buttons, (political) cartoons
Data sources
Innovations require embedding in:
business environment;
regulation environment;
wider society (Deuten et al.,1997)
Embedding of innovations
…yield nine questions you can ask of images:
site of production

site of image itself

site of audiencing
…and three ‘sites' to examine...
technological: anything that has to do with the materiality of making, transmitting or displaying an image

compositional: anything that has to do with what actually appears on the image

social: anything that has to do with the cultural, economic, social and political rules and practices in which the image is embedded.
Three 'modalities' of images…
Different disciplines have different methods.

Gillian Rose offers a systematic overview of how these methods relate to one another (Rose, 2007).
How to analyse images systematically?
Images are never 'innocent': they are not objective ‘windows to the world’ (not even photographs!)

Images interpret the (social) world somehow.
Images are (sometimes) created strategically to influence people’s thinking.

These images can have (profound) effects on the social sphere!
We live in an increasingly visual culture: surrounded by visual technologies and the images they show us.
Visual analysis: why?
an introduction

Dr.ir. B. (Bram) Verhees
Eindhoven University of Technology
May 14, 2014
Visual analysis methodologies:
Nuclear power framed as important in people's daily lives.
Curing disease, preserving foodstuffs, killing insects, finding leaks, making homogenous paints, measuring cleanness of laundry
Experiential commensurability
Embedding in regulation and market environments requires regulative and economic legitimacy.

Embedding in wider society requires cultural legitimacy:

"generalized perception or assumption [that something is] desirable, proper or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs and definitions" (Suchman, 1995)

Research question: how is cultural legitimacy created (and maintained and contested) during innovation journeys?
Defining cultural legitimacy
For more information on specific methods, read: Rose, G. (2007) Visual Methodologies. Sage.
Visual analysis: types of images
Source: De Volkskrant, 17 March 2011
The Chernobyl meltdown revitalized the anti-nuclear storyline:
Empirical fit (Chernobyl as proof of nuclear power as dangerous)
Actor credibility ("we were right all along")
Experiential commensurability (ban on spinach, run on milkpowder and canned foods)
'Chernobyl never again' becomes persistent theme in subsequent performances
1986: Chernobyl
Results of performances: increasing macro-cultural resonance, actor credibility, experiential commensurability of anti-nuclear storyline
But: empirical fit still low, until Harrisburg (1979)
Harrisburg theme incorporated in performances
Industry defends legitimacy:
design differences
human error
partial meltdown
Empirical fit
"Establishment experts hide risks"
Link to technocracy
Modernization, technical progress, industrialization: important broad discourses
Nuclear power framed as more important industrial breakthrough than steam and internal combustion engine
Macro-cultural resonance
research questions / interest
type of images available
Visual analysis = tool, not goal

Different disciplines, different methods

What 'determines' your approach?
Which visual methodology?
Previously a non-issue in the 1986 political campaigns, nuclear energy dominated the elections
Christian democrates & liberals (in power) were forced to abandon their expansion plans in order to remain in power
Despite their re-election, the expansion plans were postponed (pending investigation) and eventually disappeared.
Chernobyl (1986)
During BSD, centrality of both nuclear storylines declines (recession, unemployment)
Final report: majority against new construction
Government overrules BSD: international engagements, diversification, cheap energy = 2 new nuclear plower plants
No revitalization of ANM, but increased macro-cultural resonance of 'technocracy' theme in anti-nuclear storyline
Macro-cultural resonance
High polarisation: political stalemate.
Government initiates 'Broad Societal Discussion' on energy policy
"Democratic experiment for dealing with controversies" vs. "repressive tolerance"
Industry reluctantly participates; ANM is split
Organisation emphasizes centrality & experiential commensurability of broad issue of energy
High polarisation: BSD
Frustration with ANM members as protests prove politically ineffective;
Emergence of 'direct' action as strategy (copied from USA);
Political activists with broader opposition agenda join ANM;
New theme: framing of nuclear power as 'repressive technology'; antagonistic discourse ("us versus them")
e.g. the danger of nuclear proliferation
Link to peace and disarmanent
e.g. sea dumping of nuclear waste
Link to environmental issues
Direct action performed in ANM actions
At first: non-violent (occupations, blockades), later: sabotage and violent confrontations
1981: confrontations with MP at DWD:
...alienate public ( ↓ experiential commensurabity)
...receive widespread media attention (↑ centrality)
Daily life & centrality
e.g. radiation risks with respect to health
Link to technology out of control
such images were created in an attempt to influence how people thought about nuclear power!
...or: Part II:
Let's practice with a well-known photo
(but I'll seriously need your help here...)

The picture, released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on March 26, 2013 and taken on March 25, 2013 shows the landing and anti-landing drills of KPA Large Combined Units 324 and 287 and KPA Navy Combined Unit 597 at an undisclosed location on North Korea's east coast.
by who
by who
Full transcript