Whose Voice?

‘What we think we know is quite often not correct’ (Molloy, 2018)

Guest lecturer Caroline Molloy, photographer and anthropologist, discussed in considerable depth the research methods she employs in her photographic practice.

In terms of data, she indicates the use of photographs, interviews, and filming in addition to ‘going back’ or retracing her steps and asking new questions.

It was fascinating to view still images of her research notebooks, rich with illustrations, sketches and annotations.

Molloy was clear from the outset that the purpose of her work is to challenge assumptions.

Producing participatory works, a key question for Molloy is ‘what difference does it make having me being part of the story?’

This is highly relevant to my final major project as I attempt to carry out objective research.

Mannay (2016) posits that ‘consideration is given to the relationships between participants and researchers, and acknowledge that even when the ‘intrusive presence’ of the researcher steps out of the site of visual data production this leaves a space that is often filled by the ‘intrusive presence’ of others’.

Luttrell and Chalfen suggest that, despite an explosion of participatory media projects, the objective of giving voice has not been achieved, moreover the simultaneous questions of whose voice is being spoken and whose voice is being heard remain unresolved (Luttrell and Chalfen, 2010 cited in Mannay 2016).

Pauwels (2011) suggests that participatory productions place the social scientist in the position of participatory facilitator, and that research is conducted ‘with’ and not ‘on’ participants. I think that, for me, this is the point to take away from Molloy’s presentation – to engage without influencing, to present a true and fair view. In essence, ensuring that conceptual and practical filters which can be applied as a result of pre-knowledge and associated underlying assumptions (Walmsley and Johnson, 2003) are eliminated.



Mannay, Dawn (2016), Visual, Narrative and Creative Research Methods: Application, Reflection and Ethics. Oxon: Routledge

Molloy, Caroline (2018). ‘Guest Lecture (Research) – Caroline Molloy’. Lecture to PHO705 17/18 [online]. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/86/pages/guest-lecture-research-caroline-molloy?module_item_id=8346 (accessed: Friday 23 March 2018)

Pauwels, L. (2011), ‘An Integrated Conceptual Framework for Visual Social Research’, in E. Margolis and L. Pauwels (eds) The Sage Handbook of Visual Research methods. London: Sage

Walmsley, J. and Johnson, K. (2003), Inclusive Research with People with Learning Disabilities: Past, Present and Futures. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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