A project of visual sociology

The visual sociology laboratory of the University of Genoa was born from a desire to experiment and from a curiosity for research techniques considered non standard, but also from a widespread intolerance of an academic production that toils to leave the walls of the university and measure itself with a wider public. Audiovisuals and photography are, from this point of view, more immediate languages, capable of communicating at different levels.

Donna Faber was born therefore from a wish to identify new strategies to encourage the coming together of sociology and society, an objective that is always important in our opinion, but much more urgent when social research touches on topics such as sexism and gender discrimination.

The pathway that led to this exhibition began in 2010, when the 36° fotogramma Cultural Association suggested we built a project of visual sociology together on women in so-called male jobs. I accepted without hesitation.

A new path opened up full of charm and fascination, during which we had the chance to meet interesting women and their stories through the tools at our disposal: the interview techniques proper to qualitative sociology (life stories) in my case; a camera, in the case of the photographers (both male and female).

However, sociological research and photography did not follow parallel pathways, but they  continuously intertwined, learning over time to get to know each other and create synergies and contaminations that were reciprocally stimulating.

Then the photographs were a surprise for me, in that they often revealed aspects that were present but not so evident in the interviews. Through these pictures I was able to “see” dimensions that a  generic glimpse sometimes makes opaque in narration. So photos not only as a strategy to report the research results, but also as a tool to bring out and comprehend aspects of the complexity that were, otherwise, elusive.

Here we will try to share the abundance of our trip with you.

Emanuela Abbatecola

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