Learning about visual criminology

von Christian Wickert

By: Diana Selck, M.A. student of International Criminology, diana[dot]selck[at]googlemail[dot com]

During our research module ‘Drogen und Kontrolle’, Dr. Bettina Paul invited Camille Stengel to our class. Camille is a Doctorate in Cultural and Global Criminology and introduced us to her doctoral research program ‘Change the Chick’, a program in a harm reduction in Budapest. Listening to her personal experiences about her doctoral research while introducing us to visual methodology was a great experience and a good way in learning about Visual Criminology, Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Photovoice.

Beginning with a 30 minutes presentation of her research and experience in Budapest, Camille explained to us how images are not just images. Especially, PAR can be highly flexible in a way that there are no fixed rules applied; there is a high grade of modelling around as well as a highly interaction between participants and researcher. Camille vividly explained that when she first arrived in Budapest at the harm reduction centre, people would be sceptical about her as well as the purpose of her research.

Her research focussed on a technique of PAR called Photovoice. I have never heard of Photovoice before and was rather curios about it. As Camille went on, explaining to the course that she provided the participants with cameras in order to take pictures of themselves, I became curious how participants would accept and handle that task.

Photovoice is a method of visual criminology and the difficulty within this method lies in the issue of anonymity and consent.
Discussing the issues of the method and also the experience of conducting such a research, Camille gave our class the same task. Provided with cameras, groups were established and a certain time amount was given until we were supposed to return to the course room ...

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