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Writing and Pedagogy

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PhotoVoice is a community and participatory action research method developed by Wang and Burris (1994). Rooted in grassroots empowerment education, critical feminist theory, and documentary photography, it aims to enable people with little money, power, or status to communicate needed changes to policymakers. Examples of PhotoVoice projects can be found in fields outside of education, focusing on a range of social issues including homelessness, physical ailments, mental and psychological illness, and gender discrimination. Only a handful of studies in the United States have demonstrated use of PhotoVoice with adolescents in out-of-school educational settings (Chio & Fandt, 2007; Strack, Magill, & McDonagh, 2004; Wilson, et al., 2007; Zenkov & Harmon, 2009). Similarly, an organization called The Viewfinder Project ("The Viewfinder Project," 2010) uses methods that run parallel to PhotoVoice, and provides its curriculum to those who are interested in initiating a group project in their community. The current research focus on out-of-school use of PhotoVoice-like approaches creates a gap in the research regarding the in-school literacy development opportunities inherent in PhotoVoice methods. As knowledgeable and capable community ethnographers, K-12 students, particularly historically marginalized and disempowered student populations, can use photo images and PhotoVoice methods to create powerful, visual representations that identify and elevate the significance of the local social issues to transform existing conditions in their communities.


This is a pre-print version of this article. The version of record is available at Equinox Publishing.

NOTE: this version of the article is pending revision and may not reflect the changes made in the final, peer-reviewed version.