Lessons from photoelicitation: encouraging working men to speak

Natasha Slutskaya, Alexander Simpson, Jason Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the possibilities of incorporating such visual methods as photoelicitation and photovoice into qualitative research, in order to retrieve something that, as a result of particular group socialisation, has been hidden, unspoken of or marginalised. Design/methodology/approach – The research design combines 40 in-depth verbal interviews with male butchers, with the use of photoelicitation and photovoice, in order to increase participant control of data generation. Findings – Results suggest that photoelicitation enabled working-class men to engage with themes which are rarely reflected on or discussed; which may sit uneasily with desired presentations of self; and which challenge traditional notions of gendered work. It prompted participants to elaborate and translate their daily experiences of physical labour into more expressive and detailed accounts. This provided room for the display of positive emotions and self-evaluation and the surfacing of the aesthetics and the pleasures of the trade – aspects that might have been otherwise concealed as a result of adherence to identity affirming norms. Photoelicitation also evoked powerful nostalgic themes about the past: a lament for the loss of skills; the passing of the time of closer communities and more traditional values. Originality/value – The use of photovoice and photoelicitation in the exploration of a class and gendered “habitus” has highlighted the power of visual methods to offer a closer look at what participants considered important, to open space for the emergence of unexpected topics and themes and to allow for more comprehensive and reflective elaboration on specificities of personal experiences and emotions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-33
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

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  • Research methods
  • Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Social class
  • Photoelicitation
  • Photovoice
  • Dirty work
  • Masculinity


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