A Foucauldian Analysis of Power and Representation in an Attempt to Run a Photovoice Project with Youth
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This project evolved out of a search for ways to conduct research on “others” in a way that does not exploit, stigmatize or misrepresent their experience. This thesis is an ethnographic study in leisure research and youth work and an experiment in running a photovoice project. Photovoice is a participatory visual method that embodies the emancipatory ideal of empowering others through self-representation. The literature on photovoice lacks a comprehensive discussion on the complexity of power and representation. Postmodern theorists have proposed that participatory methods are not benign and that initiatives are acts of power in themselves that produce effects (Cook & Kothari, 2001). A Foucauldian analysis of power is used to deconstruct the researcher’s practice and reflect on why and how youth are “engaged”. This project seeks to embrace the principle of working “with” others, but also work from a postmodern perspective that acknowledges power and representation as ongoing problems.