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BSOS-185: Society through the Visual

BSOS-185: Society through the Visual

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

If you are looking for BSOS-185 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Society through the Visual, you have come to the right place. BSOS-185 solution on this page applies to 2021-22 session students studying in BAG, BSCG courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Solution

Assignment Code: BSOS-185/ASST/TMA/2021-22

Course Code: BSOS-185

Assignment Name: Society Through the Visual

Year: 2021-2022

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Assignment A

Answer the following in about 500 words each.

Q1. What is ethnography and what kind of visuals can be considered ethnographic? (20)

Ans) Ethnography is a "methodology and an approach to experiencing, interpreting, and expressing culture and society that informs and is informed by a variety of disciplinary objectives and theoretical ideas," according to Pink. Ethnography is a method of generating and presenting information (about society, culture, and individuals). It is based on ethnographers' observations of realities that "are as true to the context, negotiations, and intersubjectivity through which the information was formed as feasible." In some way, all ethnographies are visual.

The visual includes the study of material culture, facial expressions, gestures, and any component of spatial behaviour. Not only what we see, but also what we don't see, makes up the visual. Some components of civilization are so ingrained in our daily lives that we don't even notice them. For example, concerns of gender inequality related to household division of labour, confining gender to a binary, or limiting sexuality to heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is a worldview and a way of thinking that considers a man-woman sexual connection to be the usual and preferred sexual orientation. It presupposes that there are only two genders: men and women, and that all other genders are excluded.

These concerns went unnoticed in society until they were brought to our attention by feminist movements and sexuality movements. Visuality is inextricably related to societal power struggles. The normative is obvious, whereas the marginal is not. The researcher ‘sees' the 'visible' and 'invisible' in the field, including all components of culture such as artefacts, everyday behaviours, and rituals, among other things. Ethnographic studies based on written texts have traditionally assisted us in ‘seeing' and visualising civilizations. The text might occasionally be complemented with images and, on rare occasions, films.

Technology's Importance

As technology progressed and cameras became lighter, filming and photography became more popular. Cameras and camera reels were huge and expensive at the time, and they couldn't record sound. Cameras began to record both pictures and sound as technology advanced. Cameras and recorders become more accessible and affordable thanks to digital technology. Visual anthropology as a subdiscipline of anthropology grew as a result of this. When we talk about visual anthropology nowadays, we usually think about images and ethnographic films.

Types of Visuals that Qualify as Ethnographic

For a long time, people have been capturing personal images and recording home videos. Are these photographs and films anthropological as well? Can ethnographic documentaries be deemed ethnographic? Or do we confine our knowledge of ethnographic videos and images to those produced by anthropologists?

The term 'ethnographic,' according to Heider and Pink, is not an absolute term that can be applied to any photograph or video. Photographs taken by ethnographers or others, as well as home videos, documentaries, and films, can all be utilised to gain a better understanding of civilizations and cultures. The same image can be interpreted differently depending on the angle and perspective. They may agree, disagree, or differ from one another. What counts is how the image is interpreted, as well as the context in which it is placed. The following sections will cover the evolution and developments in anthropologists' use of videos and images in ethnographic investigations.

Q2. Discuss the role of subjectivity in visual research. (20)

Ans) Subjectivity has become a widely used term with many different shades of meaning. The most value-neutral definition is that a person's self-identity is made up of their ideas, feelings, beliefs, and desires. Subjectivity, on the other hand, is frequently presented as the polar opposite of objectivity in traditional scientific discourse. In this meaning, objectivity is frequently linked with the absence of bias, assuming that subjectivity and bias are synonymous.

It's worth noting at this point that how one understands subjectivity in research is heavily influenced by one's epistemological and ontological assumptions. Subjectivity is seen as an essential element in doing academic research and forwarding the general understanding of a field in the traditional research paradigm that emerged from the natural sciences, and as such, subjectivity must be limited to the greatest extent possible in order to assert a degree of generalizability in regard to the findings. If humans are used in an experimental study, they are usually considered as objects to be studied rather than thinking, feeling creatures who must be socially positioned and unravelled.

The social sciences differ from the natural sciences in that their investigations often centre on human subjects rather than the objects, symbols, or abstractions that the natural sciences explore. In the social sciences, the subjective is significant since it is frequently what the researcher attempts to uncover and understand—how the social world is experienced, interpreted, and generated. Given that one of the key purposes of much social scientific research is to understand subjective experience, it's important to recognise that this complicates the relationship between subjectivity and qualitative research. There is now more than just the researcher's subjective experience to consider; there is also that of the participants.

In the visualisation research field, the positive elements of subjectivity are rarely highlighted. The community widely agrees that the ideal visual representation is one that is objective and generates reproducible insights. Subjectivity is frowned upon and should be avoided in general. However, academics have claimed that it is impossible to totally eliminate subjectivity. The choice of a visual encoding, for example, is subjective because it is based on personal experience and intent. Alternative ways for creating more "truthful" visualisations have been investigated in a number of studies.

Multiple viewpoints of the same data may be integrated, errors and uncertainties in the data can be seen, and provenance can be supported by making modification histories transparent. The importance of subjective choices in narrative visualisations is for communicating personal opinions, feelings, and experiences. As a result, the concept of subjectivity presented in this work differs from the frequently denounced notion of lying with statistics and visualisation, which relates to wilful deception and misrepresentation of the facts.

While personal storytelling with visualisation is a popular topic of debate in the visualisation area, there is little research on it. Sharing, privacy, and personalisation are identified as problems for personal visualisations by Huang et al. in their study, implying the significance of allowing data owners choice over representations and the messages they communicate. Donath et al. define "data portraits" as "subjective renderings" for "self-representation," but they don't go into detail about how to make such subjective representations. Our research adds to the debate about the importance of subjectivity in personal visualisations by presenting a preliminary list of strategies for introducing conscious subjectivity.

Assignment B

Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.

Q3. Write a note on the pioneers of ethnographic film. (10)

Ans) The first cameras were large, cumbersome, and costly. These cameras relied on reels and lacked sound recording capabilities. Sound recording was done independently and was frequently dubbed in studios. The majority of these early films featured a lot of narration and subtitles. Nanook of the North, Trance and Dance in Bali, and a few others were among them. Anthropologists such as Robert J. Flaherty, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Jean Rouch, who were pioneers in filmmaking, started with hefty cameras that were mostly set on a tripod.

The cameras' equipment was costly, as was the cost of running and maintaining them. Repairs were extremely difficult, and spare components were costly. The reels used in the cameras were similarly expensive. A typical ethnographic filmmaking mission included a big team, including a cinematographer, sound recordist, and other technicians, in addition to the anthropologist. It was never intended to be a solo mission. This increased the overall expense of the research. Due to the expensive cost of the entire process, there could only be a little amount of wasted reel and time. This necessitated a great deal of meticulous planning and allowed little space for error. The entire filmmaking process was really rigid.

The influence of Bronislaw Malinowski, A.R. Radcliffe Brown, Franz Boas, and Marcel Mauss on the development of anthropology around World War I focused increasingly on observational fieldwork. The anthropologist would observe and write down what they saw. The goal was for the anthropologist to create a "picture" of the community based on their findings. From the 1940s through the 1980s, this resulted in a reduction in the use of visual tools to describe society. The use of sensory domains such as sound and sight for research, based on films, images, and videos, was marginalised. Interestingly, while taking images, these anthropologists did not use them for analysis or representations of communities.

Q4. Bring out the relationship between self and photography. (10)

Ans) The concept of oneself is a complicated process that is based not only on your perspective of yourself, but also on how others see you. You may think of yourself, and your view of yourself may be reflected in the praises you receive on your appearance from others. The Symbolic Interactionist School of sociology captured this position of the self in the human interacting process quite well. In reality, Charles Cooley was well-known for his "looking glass hypothesis" of the self. To put it another way, you look at yourself as if someone else is gazing at you, and your sense of self is a reflection of the gaze of others on you.

The social interactions we experience with people in our environment play a part in our self-evaluation. The photographic image is inherently subjective. The widespread idea that images depict objective reality did not persist long, as it became clear that what a photograph depicts is dependent on the photographer. In other words, it is the photographer's decision about what to include and exclude from a shot, as well as the angle and lighting techniques used. Because of its subjective nature, mainstream sociology finds it difficult to recognise photography as a credible method of data collection. These disputes about subjective vs. objective bias resulted in two different points of view.

On the one hand, photography as a method was deemed obsolete by sociologists who believed that research and inquiry should remain scientific and empirical in nature. On the other hand, some sociologists believed that using photography as a study method would help them better understand social life. They claim that photography prompted multifaceted social reflections and discoveries. Photographs can aid in the discovery and demonstration of linkages that are either subtle or easily overlooked. Activities, interactions, and other factors can all be used to effectively transmit emotions and feelings.

Q5. Examine the relationship between photography and modernity. (10)

Ans) Photography arose at a pivotal moment in history, serving as both a carrier and a shaper of modernity. During the 1920s and 1930s, Walter Benjamin wrote extensively about photography's power and role as the most important modern means of communication. The 'photo-eye' was thought to be revelatory, bringing facts into the open. Along with this, photography provided fresh perspectives on observing from various perspectives. This allowed people to see the world in ways they had never seen before thanks to contemporary technology. Furthermore, photography verified one's sensation of 'being there,' which is defined as capturing the actual experience of a new location rather than simply visiting it.

Photographs are meticulously detailed recordings and documents of the changing world. Both photography and cinema were implicated in the process of seeing as revelation in this regard. In addition, during the early twentieth century, photography had a significant impact on the growth of print media. As a result, Walter Benjamin saw photography as a democratic medium. In the early twentieth century, what was happening on the written page may have piqued people's interest. Posters, photomontage, and photographic magazines provided avenues for experimenting with image combinations and visual storytelling approaches.

One of the most essential aspects of photographic recordings is that, due to the camera's impartial vision process, even when manipulated, they contain a substantial number of non-verbal truths. This permits the audience to reconstruct schematic reality as well as form thoughts that have drastically altered social thinking.

Assignment C

Write a note on the following in about 100 words each.

Q6. Daguerre type photography (6)

Ans) The excitement surrounding the advent of photography sprang from the realisation that people would be able to view the world as it was for the first time. Previously, reality was given shape through images. Thanks to photography, visuals that could previously only be documented as an artistic process became an optical process. The impact of photography as a form of reality became apparent in practically every element of modern life. Soon, the camera as an object began to take centre stage in people's lives, and its significance in anthropological communication and analysis was widely recognised.

A Frenchman named Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, who was born in 1787, invented Daguerre type photography. "Louis Daguerre used the term "daguerreotype" to describe his innovation. His method involved treating silver-plated copper sheets with iodine to make them light sensitive, then exposing them in a camera and "developing" the images using warm mercury vapour, which he revealed to the public late in the summer of 1839. The mercury vapour vapours mixed with the silver to create a picture. To avoid future exposure, the plate was rinsed in a saline solution."

Q7. Jean Rouch (6)

Ans) The observational-participatory technique to recording was accompanied by a "collaborative" approach during the 1960s. Chronicles of Summer, a collaboration between anthropological Jean Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin, is a famous example of ‘shared anthropology,' as Rouch called it. This film involves its participants as part of the filmmaking process from beginning to end, with the camera out on the streets of Paris. Rouch talked with his participants about the concept for his films, cooperated with them, watched the video with them, and took their active input. This work was ‘reflexive' in that it depicted the life of metropolitan Parisians through their eyes. The camera was more than just a 'fly-on-the-wall' in this case. In fact, it evolved from a simple recording instrument to a medium for expressing people's agency and subjective experiences.

Q8. Reflexivity (6)

Ans) Reflexivity is an important aspect of visual ethnography. This involves being aware of the following:

  1. Our presence as researchers

  2. Our subjectivity

  3. Our position in the context

  4. Impact of research on the participants

This implies being conscious in the ways we represent the other. Reflexivity within visual ethnography involves the following:

  1. Being aware of the meanings that the visuals convey

  2. The meaning associated with the different visual media

  3. How the participants will interpret the visuals

  4. And finally, how will the visuals impact the participants

In order to do visual ethnography, both reflexivity and subjectivity are required. Researchers should always be conscious of how the many aspects of their identity play a role in their research. Ethnographers have to be aware of how they show themselves to informants, as well as how their identities are built and interpreted by others.

How a visual is framed, what is captured in the visual, what is excluded, how does one make sense of what is left out of the image, and what does the visual reveal about the person who made it all influence the meanings sent by it. The distance between the observer and the participant is also a factor. What distance do we have between us and the participants? These are critical in defining the meanings conveyed by the images.

Q9. Visual anthropology (6)

Ans) Visual Anthropology is a subfield of social anthropology that aims to comprehend all types of visual representations, such as symbols, paintings, design, and museums, as well as art forms like as dance and ritual performances. Visual anthropology, in its broadest sense, encompasses all forms of visual representation in cultural contexts and locations. The visual anthropologist is also interested in ethnographic filmmaking and new media formats that have emerged as a result of digital technology advancements and inventions.

Visual anthropology's history is inextricably linked to the production of anthropological video and photography. The colonial administrators and ethnologists were not only interested in trying to understand the natives' so-called "primitive" culture, but they also realised that their cultural practises needed to be documented in a visual format to document cultures that were rapidly changing due to the impact of colonialism and industrialisation.

Q10. Haptic cinema (6)

Ans) Since the invention of photography and video, sociologists and anthropologists have used them to document 'other civilizations.' The first reported expedition to employ films was the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits in 1898. It was multidisciplinary and comprised film and photography equipment (stills). A member of the expedition, Alfred Cort Haddon, was able to record a few brief clips of the Islanders' rites. Other anthropologists who used the visual approach for participant observation included Franz Boas, Baldwin Spencer, and Frank Gillen. Spencer and Haddon both conducted study using a variety of mediums. Films and photos were among them. Films, pictures, and sound were all used in the final presentation. This is referred described as 'haptic cinema,' or cinema in which the visuals are touched and felt by the audience.

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